DAMASCUS - Syria state media said Sunday the country's air defense systems intercepted and destroyed three "hostile" targets over a Russian air base in the country's coastal region. There were no more details about the suspected attack or who was behind it, but it comes amid rising violations of a cease-fire in Syria's west negotiated by Turkey and Russia and in place since September. On Sunday, Russia Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on state television that the agreement with Turkey is not fully implemented, leaving the situation there as a matter of concern "first of all, by the Syrian authorities and also Moscow." He didn't address the suspected drone attack. The Britain-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said explosions heard in the region were from air defense systems intercepting suspected attacking drones.
Russia has retaliated by threatening to treat American planes as targets; in a dramatic "Top Gun"-style maneuver on Monday, one of Moscow's jets buzzed within five feet of an American spy plane. None of these encounters involved the Islamic State. The contradiction opens a larger question, national security experts say, of what kind of broader strategy the Trump administration plans once the Islamic State -- now on the defensive -- is defeated in Syria. With each episode, "we own more of the conflict in Syria without articulating a strategy," said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "We are sleepwalking into a much broader military mandate, without saying what we plan to do afterward."
MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS – Russia released drone footage Monday showing new destruction in Syria's historic town of Palmyra, which was recently recaptured by the Islamic State group, and warned that the militants could be planning the further demolition of antiquities. The Russian Defense Ministry says Syrian government forces are advancing toward the town as another battle for the ancient site looms. The video showed that the militants have badly damaged the facade of the Roman-era amphitheater and the Tetrapylon -- a set of four monuments with four columns each at the center of the colonnaded road leading to the theater. The video appears to show that only two of the 16 columns remain standing. IS militants have destroyed ancient sites across their self-styled Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq, perceiving them as monuments to idolatry.