News ID: 166972
Published: 0510 GMT August 16, 2016

Russia announces first Syria strikes from Iran airbase

Russia announces first Syria strikes from Iran airbase
z

Russia on Tuesday announced for the first time it had flown bombing raids against terrorist groups in Syria from an airbase in western Iran after deploying its warplanes to the country.

"On August 16, Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 frontline bombers, flying with a full bomb load from the Hamadan Airbase (in western Iran), conducted a group airstrike against targets of Daesh and the Nusra  Front terrorist groups in the provinces of Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Idlib," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The number of military aircraft deployed at the Hamadan Airbase has not been disclosed.

The Al-Masdar website was the first to publish photos of at least three Tu-22M3 bombers and Il-76 military transport jets in Iran.

The raids mark a shift in Moscow's military strategy in war-torn Syria, where its bombing campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad had until now been flown out from bases in Russia and the Russian airbase in Syria, AFP said.

The strikes led to the destruction of "five large warehouses with weapons, ammunition and fuel" and terrorist training camps near Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, the village of Saraqeb in the Idlib region and al-Bab, a Daesh-held town in Aleppo Province, the ministry said in a statement.

The bombing also targeted three command centers near the village of Jafra and Deir Ezzor, killing "a large number of militants," Moscow added.

Conducting its bombing raids from Iran will dramatically cut the time it takes Moscow's long-range bombers to reach Syria.

Moscow has used warplanes stationed at its Khmeimim airbase outside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, as well as warships stationed in the Caspian Sea and a submarine in the Mediterranean Sea to launch cruise missile attacks on Syrian territory.

But Khmeimim has only short-range planes and fighter jets, meaning long-range bombers had to be deployed from southern Russia.

A Russian senator last week said Moscow was mulling plans to expand Khmeimim into a permanent military facility.

 

Iran-Russia cooperation

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told IRNA in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that Moscow and Tehran "exchange capacities and facilities" in the fight against terrorism in Syria.

Moscow and Tehran’s cooperation in Syria is “strategic,” said Shamkhani.

Moscow and Tehran signed a military agreement allowing Russian aircraft to station at Hamadan Airport in western Iran, RT wrote.

Tehran has agreed to share its military facilities and capacities with Moscow, confirming dedication to strategic cooperation in fighting against terrorism in Syria, Shamkhani added.

The core benefit for the Russian Air Force is a drastic reduction in flying time to terrorist targets in Syria.

An unnamed military source told Interfax that the Russian army had sent requests to Iran and Iraq to fire cruise missiles across their airspace.

Iran and Russia are the two firmest backers of the Syrian government and have opposed international calls for the Syrian leader to step down. The war has killed about 400,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has held several meetings over the past year with Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, most recently in June in Tehran, where they pledged to deliver a "decisive" battle against "all terrorist groups".

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was in Tehran on Monday, where he discussed the "high mutual interest" of deeper cooperation between Russia and Iran in the Middle East, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Fighting for Aleppo has intensified after government troops seized control of the last supply route into terrorist-held areas in mid-July.

The increased fighting has raised concerns for the estimated 1.5 million civilians still in Aleppo, including some 250,000 in terrorist-held areas.

 

   
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