The last day of 2017 turned out to be one of the gloomiest for the Russian military in Syria. First, one of its helicopters crashed north of Hama due to a technical failure, killing two servicemen. Then, rumors spread that on Dec. 31 militants had shelled the Russian Khmeimim air base, which President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had visited about three weeks beforehand.
News of the attack wasn't reported until Jan. 3, when the authoritative Kommersant newspaper published a story saying two “political diplomatic sources” confirmed the air base had suffered one of its worst attacks during Russia's entire military campaign in Syria. According to the report, Islamist militants shelled the air base, allegedly destroying at least four Su-24 attack aircraft, two Su-35S multirole fighter aircraft and one An-72 transport aircraft, as well as an ammunition depot that detonated after it was hit by a missile. The report said that more than 10 servicemen were injured.