Russian warplanes for the third day in a row continued to use an Iranian military base to carry out air raids in Syria, while their missions “overlapped” with raids carried out by international coalition bombers in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.
Russia used the Iranian base in carrying out air strikes in Syria for the first time on Tuesday, a step which Washington described as “regrettable”, and said that they were looking into whether the Russian move violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which forbids supplying, selling or moving warplanes to Iran.
However, the Russian Foreign Minister said yesterday that there was no basis to considering Moscow’s decision as a violation of the resolution. He said that Moscow had not supplied Iran with planes.
In a press conference after holding discussions with New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Lavrov said: “These planes were used by the Russian air force in agreement with Iran within the framework of the campaign to fight terrorism based on a request from the Syrian leadership.”
In a related context, the Russian Defense Minister said that Russian Sukhoi 34 bombers of the took off from the Hamdan air base and hit targets of the Islamic State group in Deir-ez-Zor in eastern Syria.
The ministry claimed that the Russian planes destroyed two command centers and killed more than 150 of the group’s fighters.
In comments to Alsouria Net, analyst Hamza Mustafa downplayed the results of Iran’s permission for Russia to use its territory to bomb areas in Syria, and saw it as a “military display” more than it was a real military action in the field.
He explained that by saying that “Russia does not need bombers to launch from Iran or Russia as long as it has a large base and dozens of fighters in the Hemeimeem base. This issue bears political messages for some countries who were hoping that Russian influence in Syria would come at the expense of Iranian influence.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that planes thought to belong to the international coalition carried out strikes on areas in the village of Khalif al-Daeef in Jebel al-Maaza in the Markada area in the southern Hasakeh countryside near Deir-ez-Zor, which killed a civilian and wounded a woman and a child.
It was believed that American and Russian forces require at a minimum the exchange of data so as not to have overlap between the planes’ courses.
Politically, Robert Malley, the advisor to US President Barack Obama in Middle Eastern affairs, defended the administration’s account in Syria, specifying three aims for Washington: To reduce the level of violence, to destroy the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front, and to push for “a political solution without Assad.”
Malley told Foreign Policy magazine that critics of Obama cannot “say with any level of confidence what could or should have been done to prevent this tragedy,” and that, “we can’t be sure whether doing more militarily in Syria would have led to a better or worse outcome and whether it would have helped or obstructed the fight against terrorism.”
He said that the efforts with Russia were toward three aims: to reduce the violence against civilians, “defeat ISIL and al-Nusra [al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria]; and advance a real political transition away from [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad.”
He said that Washington was not “banking on” Russia, but “testing them… If Russia does not mean what [it says], or if [it] cannot get the regime to do what it must, we will not have sacrificed anything. Support for the opposition will go on, and the regime will not prevail.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.