In this photo made from video footage provided by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, a Russian Su-34 bomber drops bombs on a target. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
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Moments later, activists in a rebel-held area in northwestern Syria sound warning sirens that prompt civilians to take cover before incoming air raids.Abu Mohammad agreed to speak to AFP using a pseudonym.He says he is based near a Syrian army position in the regime stronghold of Latakia, and describes dodging artillery and Russian reconnaissance drones to keep an eye on outgoing warplanes.The monitors operate like a chain: When a Russian plane takes off from Hmeimem, the spotter warns counterparts in the provinces where the plane is heading, who in turn contact activists and rebels there.In the central province of Homs, activist Hassaan Abu Nuh is on alert for messages about warplanes headed to his town of Talbisseh, which is regularly bombarded by Russian and Syrian government planes.Even before the Russian campaign began, activists had begun trying to find ways to minimize casualties in airstrikes. Russia's role in the conflict has added a new challenge for the monitors, who say they have been able to decode intercepted Russian messages.
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