U.S. reaction to Iran’s air base hosting Russian bomber fleet: ‘Unfortunate’

by WorldTribune Staff, August 17, 2016

Russia’s use of an Iranian base to launch airstrikes in Syria is “unfortunate,” the U.S. State Department said on Aug. 16.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Russia’s use pf the Hamedan base in western Iran “could very well be a violation” of a UN Security Council resolution, which Russia denied.

MiG-29 fighter in Dezful, Iran.
MiG-29 fighter in Dezful, Iran.

“There are no grounds to suspect Russia of breaching the resolution,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow on Aug. 17. “In the case we are discussing now, there was neither the sale, nor supply, nor transfer of warplanes to Iran.”

“These warplanes with the consent of Iran are being used by the Russian air force to participate in an anti-terrorism operation in Syria at the request of the legal Syrian authorities,” Lavrov said.

“There’s nothing even to discuss here.”

On Aug. 17, for the second consecutive day, Russian Sukhoi-34 jets took off from the Hamedan base and carried out what the Russian Defense Ministry said were strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.

The ministry said Russian warplanes used high-explosive fragmentation bombs and “destroyed two command centers and large field camps for training terrorists in the area of the town of Deir Ezzor, killing more than 150 fighters including foreign mercenaries.”

According to defense consultancy IHS Jane’s, Moscow made use of the Syrian base due to expansion work at Mozdok airbase in southern Russia, from where long-range bombers had been flying their Syria raids.

“Flight operations may have been disrupted by the construction of a second runway” which began some time between May and June, according to satellite imagery, Jane’s said in a report.