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Ukraine claims major drone strike on Russian airfield, killing servicemen and destroying aircraft

By Anna Chernova, Victoria Butenko and Sophie Tanno, CNN

(CNN) — Ukraine launched a major drone attack on an airbase in Russia’s Rostov region, killing Russian servicemen and destroying fighter jets, according to a Ukrainian source with knowledge of the operation.

The Security Service of Ukraine and Ukrainian military were behind the strikes on the Morozovsk airfield in the Rostov region, which destroyed at least six Russian fighter jets, the source told CNN Friday, adding that “the operation is important to decrease Russian military potential.”

According to the source, the airfield was targeted because it was used as a base for aircraft “used to launch guided air bombs on Ukrainian positions and border settlements.” Approximately 20 Russian personnel were impacted – either killed or wounded, the source added.

CNN cannot independently verify the claims. If true, the strikes will be the most damaging carried out at an airfield inside Russia since the start of the conflict in February 2022.

Rostov Governor Vasily Golubev confirmed on Telegram an attack of over 40 drones in the Morozovsky district of the region, resulting in “minor damage” to an electrical substation damage but maintained that no-one was injured.

Several regions in Russia have been targeted by UAV attacks overnight, with the Ministry of Defense claiming Friday the interception and destruction of at least 53 Ukrainian drones across various territories.

According to the ministry, air defense systems intercepted 44 UAVs over the Rostov region, six UAVs over the Krasnodar region, and one each over the Saratov, Kursk and Belgorod regions.

In the city of Engels southeast of Saratov, where a strategic aviation base of the Russian Armed Forces is based, regional head Roman Busargin confirmed the interception of one drone but asserted no casualties or destruction.

Attacks on the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border also continued with its governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reporting that the region came under fire from the Ukrainian Armed Forces which resulted in damage to electricity and gas supply lines.

The region of Rostov, which borders Ukraine in Russia’s south, has previously been impacted by Kyiv’s strategic aerial strikes.

In September 2023, a drone attack caused an explosion near Russia’s military headquarters in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Social media videos geolocated by CNN showed the attack in the vicinity of the military base.

Rostov-on-Don was briefly occupied by Wagner troops during the private military group’s brief rebellion against the Kremlin earlier this year.

Ukraine is showing increasing willingness to launch targeted strikes across the border, in an apparent attempt to slowly wear down domestic Russian support for the war and degrade Russian infrastructure.

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