Russia launches air strikes on Syria from Iranian air base, human rights groups claims civilians killed


TEHRAN, Iran – An Iranian air base was used by Russia to launch air strikes against Syrian militants for the first time on August 16 in a move indicative of Russia’s deepening involvement in the Middle East.

According to reports, Iran’s Hamadan air base was used by long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers to strike targets in Syria, marking the first time that Russia used another nation’s territory to launch strikes.

The move also marks the first time that Iran permitted a foreign power to use its territory for military operations since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The strikes on August 16 targeted the Islamic State as well as militants in the Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al Zour provinces, who were previously known as the Nusra Front.

The Russian Defence Ministry said, “As a result of the strikes five large arms depots were destroyed… a militant training camp… three command and control points… and a significant number of militants.”

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that air-raids, either conducted by Russian or regime aircraft, on two rebel-held districts in Aleppo killed 19 civilians, including three children.

Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran’s National Security Council, confirmed that Tehran and Moscow were sharing facilities, and added, “Iranian-Russian cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria is a strategic one and we share our potential and facilities in this field.”

The countries’ cooperation has been labelled as “strategic,” as both back Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Further, the gradually warming relations were also caused due to Iran’s reaching of an agreement in 2015 with global powers to curtail its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of U.N., EU and U.S. financial sanctions.

Russian reports have also indicated that Moscow has asked Iran and Iraq for permission to fire cruise missiles at Syrian targets across their territory from the Caspian Sea.

Apart from allowing a cut to flight time and increasing bombing payloads, the “concentrated airstrikes” from Iran has cemented Russia as a central player in the Middle East.

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