Russian defense officials confirmed on Tuesday that its warplanes are staging from an air base in Iran’s western province of Hamedan to launch sorties against jihadist and rebel groups in Syria. The confirmation follows yesterday’s report by the Arab outlet Al Masdar.
The Russian defense ministry reported that Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 strike fighters took off from Hamedan and hit targets in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, and Deir al Zour today. The Russian defense ministry has also reportedly requested permission from the Iraqi and Iranian governments to use their airspace for launching cruise missiles. These developments facilitate Russian operations in Syria in support of Bashar Assad, an ally of both Moscow and Tehran.
Contrary to extant Western reporting, however, this would not be the first time that Russian bombers have used the base in Hamedan to launch operations in Syria since the Kremlin’s military intervention began in October 2015.
AllSource satellite imagery in December 2015 identified Russian planes at the same military base in the western Iranian province of Hamedan, also known as Shahid Nozheh Air Base (as analyzed here by the American Enterprise Institute). The Russian Air Force, however, has primarily flown its jets from Mozdok military base in southern Russia along a corridor through the Caspian Sea, Iran, and Iraq to strike targets in Syria, as noted by The Aviationist.
There has been an uptick in high-level meetings between Iranian and Russian officials over the past two months, where the two sides have discussed Syria and increasing bilateral cooperation. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, attended a meeting between the Iranian and Russian defense ministers in Tehran in early June. Shamkhani followed up with a trip to Moscow later that month, where he met with senior Russian defense officials.
It was Shamkhani who confirmed to Iranian media the report of Russian jets using Iran’s airbase. The senior Iranian official hailed Russo-Iranian cooperation against “terrorism” as “strategic,” and noted that Iran would put its “facilities at Russia’s disposal in its war against terrorism.”………..