Russian bombers use Iranian air base to bomb ISIS, Syrian rebels
One of the consequences of President Obama's failed Syria policies has been Russia and Iran drawing closer to form a strategic partnership. Nature and diplomacy abhor a vacuum, and with the U.S. policy in disarray, both Russia and Iran have moved together to take advantage.
Russian bombers took off from a base in Iran to conduct airstrikes in against ISIS in Syria on Tuesday, officials said, marking a new development in the country's civil war.
It was the first time Russia used the territory of another Middle Eastern country for its operations inside Syria in support of President Bashar Assad.
Russia's defense ministry said Tu-22M3 and Su-34 bombers took off on raids targeting ISIS and allied Nusra Front militants in Aleppo, Deir el-Zor and Idlib — destroying five major ammunition depots, training camps and three command posts.
The airstrikes also hit "numerous militants," it said in a statement.
The jets took off "with a full bomb load" from the Hamadan base and were protected by Su-30sm and Su-35s military airplanes, the statement added.
Iran's state-run news agency IRNA on Tuesday quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, as saying that Tehran and Moscow will share "facilities and capacities" in the fight against ISIS.
Moscow and Tehran are the main international backers of Assad, with Russia supporting the regime's forces with airstrikes, and Iran with ground troops.
Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria also have set up a joint center in Baghdad with the goal of coordinating the campaign against ISIS.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani last week, though neither made any mention of a possible deal on Iranian air bases.
Tuesday's announcement came a day after Russia's defense minister said Moscow and Washington were edging closer to an agreement on Syria that would help defuse the situation in the besieged city of Aleppo.
Sergei Shoigu said the agreement would "allow us to find common ground and start fighting together for bringing peace to that territory," according to The Associated Press. He said Russian representatives are "in a very active stage of talks with our American colleagues."
The two countries – one ultra-nationalist and expansionist, the other fanatical fundamentalist Islamic – couldn't be more different, and in another context, they could be bitter enemies. But opportunity presented by Obama's incompetence has forged an alliance that will bedevil the Middle East even when the Syrian civil war is over.