Russia bombs Syrian militants from Iran base 'for first time'
August 17, 2016
Russian bombers based in Iran on Tuesday struck Islamist militant targets inside Syria, the Russian Defence Ministry said, after Moscow deployed Russian aircraft to an Iranian air force base to widen its campaign in Syria.
The ministry said the strikes, by Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers, were launched from Iran's Hamadan air base.
It is thought to be the first time that Russia has struck targets inside Syria from Iran since it launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September last year.
The head of Iran's National Security Council confirmed on Tuesday that Tehran and Russia are collaborating more closely to combat terrorism.
"Iranian-Russian cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria is a strategic one and we share our potential and facilities in this field," Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
Expanding Russian role?
The move shows Russia is expanding its role and presence in the Middle East and comes amid Russian media reports that the Kremlin has asked Iran and Iraq for permission to fire cruise missiles at Syrian targets across their territory from the Caspian Sea.
The ministry said Tuesday's strikes had targeted the so-called Islamic State (IS) group and militants previously known as the Nusra Front in the Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al Zour provinces.
The bombers had been protected by fighters based at Russia's Hmeymim air base in Syria's Latakia Province, it said.
Russia's state-backed Rossiya 24 channel earlier on Tuesday broadcast uncaptioned images of at least three bombers and a Russian military transport plane apparently inside Iran, but said it was unclear how many Russian bombers had arrived there.
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