Russia launched a series of airstrikes on Syria from Iran Tuesday, deepening military ties between the two countries.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the airstrikes, which mark the first Russian strikes in Syria launched from a foreign power’s base. Russian use of an Iranian airbase is likely the first time since 1979 a foreign power has used Iran to launch military operations, Reuters reports.
Iran’s National Security Council told Iranian state media the airstrikes were the beginning of a facility sharing agreement between Russia and Iran, and called the agreement “strategic.” Russia’s use of the airbase will enable it to significantly increase the tempo of its strikes in Syria. Russia’s long range bombers can’t use the shorter runways at its airbase in Syria, and until now have been taking off at airbases inside Russia.
Russia and Iran are allies with Syrian President Bashar Assad against opposition groups in the civil war. Both countries routinely portray their operations inside Syria as “counter-terrorism” focused, but focus their firepower on any group that threatens Assad. Iran has deployed several thousand Hezbollah fighters to fight with Assad. Hezbollah is a Shiite Lebanese terrorist organization Iran supplies with weapons and money to fight against Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama is reportedly close to finalizing a deal to coordinate airstrikes with Russia in Syria. The U.S. insists the deal will be limited to airstrikes on terrorist targets, but Russia routinely defines any group it doesn’t agree with as “terrorist.”
Russia’s military cooperation deals with the U.S. and Iran may signal its willingness to become the predominant power in the Middle East. Russia’s deepening ties to Iran make U.S. ally Saudi Arabia anxious. Saudi Arabia considers Iran both a religious and strategic enemy, and has expressed concern that the U.S. is not committed to its prolonged security interests.
Send tips to email@example.com
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.