Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used Iran’s Hamadan air base to strike a range of targets in Syria.
Russia is teaming up with Iran in an effort to defeat ISIS. It is believed to be the first time Iran has allowed a foreign nation to use its territory as a base of military operations since 1979, the year of the Islamic revolution.
The Russian Defence Ministry said its bombers had taken off on Tuesday from the Hamadan air base in north-west Iran. It appears Russia has a small detachment of bombers now operating from inside Iran.
The ministry also said Tuesday’s strikes had targeted Islamic State as well as militants previously known as the Nusra Front in the Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al Zour provinces. Fighter jets from the Russian air base Hmeymim in Syria escorted the Russia bombers.
Launching from Hamadan reduces transit times for Russian aircraft and in turn allows for larger payloads to be carried.
Russia’s state-backed Rossiya 24 channel said the Iranian deployment would allow the Russian air force to cut flight times by 60 percent. The Tupolev-22M3 bombers before Tuesday had conducted strikes on Syria from their home bases in southern Russia. Russian media reported they were too large to be accommodated at Russia’s own air base inside Syria.
“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,” the ministry said in a statement.
This is not the first collaborative effort between Russian and Iran. Russia has also supplied Iran with the S-300 missile air defense system. In November, Russian Tu95 bombers were escorted by Iranian F-14 Tomcats.
Both countries back the Syrian Assad regime in contrast to the United States. The increased involvement between the two countries shows Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s desire to become a major player in the Middle East.
You can read Andrew Osborn’s full article here
Top photo: Russian Tupolev Tu-22M (Youtube)