WWIII Looms Closer As Russia Teams Up With Iran To Aid Assad In Syria
Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to bomb targets in Syria on Tuesday, an unprecedented move that underscores the deepening cooperation between two powerhouses heavily invested in the Syrian civil war.
The Iranian deployment increases Russia's foothold in the Middle East and widens Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria, bolstering President Bashar Assad's government ahead of a new round of peace talks the United Nations hopes to convene in coming weeks.
The long-range bombers took off early Tuesday near the Iranian city of Hamedan, 280 kilometers (175 miles) southwest of the Iranian capital, and struck targets in three provinces in northern and eastern Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The Russian warplanes then returned to Russia and no Russian forces remained stationed in Iran, said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to reporters about the matter.
"Russia's use of an Iranian base represents a turning point in Russia's relations in the Middle East. ... It sends a powerful message to the United States and regional powers that Russia is here to stay," said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.