Air Strikes by VKS & SyAAF, 27 April 2017
While the Russians apparently stopped flying early during the evening of the 26th, the SyAAF continued its own show by launching a single L-39 from Hama, at 00.27. Continuing the practice of varying the times of its operations (in attempt to take its opponents by surprise), the VKS then launched its next wave only minutes later: by 02.00, they launched a total of 13 aircraft and (at least) 3 UAVs, most of which bombed targets in the Khan Sheykhoun area.
Following few sporadic sorties, another large VKS wave commenced launching at 07.15. Primary target was once again Khan Sheykhoun, although Kfar Nabl and Kfar Sharki (near Ma’arat an-Nauman) were hit too. Here a video from the later place:
This wave ended around 10.00hrs, by when a total of 24 sorties were registered. The SyAAF had a slow start into the day: Hama launched two helicopters and a pair of MiG-23, 08.00–08.55.
At 10.30, the Russians commenced launching their next wave — opening it with two Su-25s, as usually. Targeting the Khan Sheykhoun area in particular, but also Idlib (city, where the Fardous Mosque was bombed), Tartanaz, Sarqib, Ma’at an-Nauman, Kfar Zita and Latamina too, this went on past 12.00hrs, and even accelerated during the following hour. By 13.30hrs, a total of 63 take-offs were registered from Hmemmem AB.
The SyAAF meanwhile continued launching sporadic sorties from Tiyas and Kweres, but most active during this morning were helicopters and MiG-21s from Hama AB. Subsequently, and as so often at earlier times (especially in 2012 and 2013), during the morning and early afternoon of 27 April, the ‘Ba’ath Squadron 819' at Tiyas flew more sorties with its Su-24s than most of other fighter-bomber units — combined. This is little surprising, considering that the overhaul works undertaken on its aircraft in Russia were of higher quality than that undertaken on Su-22s by their own crews.
Most of still active SyAAF units commenced launching their second wave of the day around 14.00hrs: Hama repeated the exercise of scrambling helicopters and — this time — MiG-23s. Dmeyr followed by two Su-22s, Kweres by a single Su-22, and Hama added a MiG-21 by 14.20. Around 15.00hrs, Hama sent three L-39s and five helicopters to bomb Latamina (here a video showing helicopter-released barel bombs), apparently without causing casualties (this time). Meanwhile, the Russians launched four Su-25s in quick succession, but their next wave picked up speed only after 15.20, by when 10 VKS aircraft were airborne. Two of these bombed the village of Awejel, killing two kids, and two others bombed Urum al-Kubra, in western Aleppo, while others attacked the Latamina area, where a pitched battle for the Massasnah CP was going on (the insurgents failed to take it). BTW, the Free Army of Idlib claimed one L-39 as damaged by its flaks (sorry, I lost the link to the related report).
Following something like one hour of no flying, the VKS and the SyAAF continued launching single fighter-bombers — primarily to bomb Latamina and Khan Sheykhoun — all the time until the the midnight. Either Russians or the Assadists took great care to re-attack the hospital in Kfar Takarim, already destroyed three days ago (when 12 people were killed). Similarly, L-39s and helicopters from Hama remained active for the rest of the day.
The number of registered UAVs was significantly higher than usually. Reason is presently unclear. That said, and as mentioned several times already, I’m sure the Russians and the IRGC are flying many more of these than usually reported.
MiG-21: 2 (probably the only two still operational at Hama)
MiG-23: 5 (in two waves, i.e. there are only some 2–3 of them operational there)
Su-22: 7 (the day before was particularly intensive for units equipped with this type, so no surprise)
Note for the case that the MOD in Moscow might come to the idea to report any kind of ‘attacks on the IGIL’: except for sporadic helicopter activity in support of ground operations in the eastern Homs Governorate, the VKS didn’t launch a single confirmed air strike against the Daesh since at least two, more likely three or four weeks. Similarly, through the same period of time, SyAAF’s fighter-bombers from Kweres have flown a mere handful of attacks against the Daesh — and all of these on targets in the Dayr al-Hafer area. So much about legends like, ‘US strike on Shayrat is disturbing the war against terror’.