05:51 GMT +318 July 2019
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    In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac while another plane lands at an air base near Hamedan, Iran.

    Russian-Iranian Breakthrough: Cruise Missiles and Hamadan Airbase

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    The deployment of Russian bombers taking part in the counterterrorism operation in Syria to the Hamadan airfield in Iran has become a milestone in bilateral relations that will pave the way for a "strategic partnership" between Moscow and Tehran, Vladimir Evseev, the deputy director of the CIS Institute, wrote for RIA Novosti.

    On August 16, Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic long-range strategic bombers and Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighters took off from the Hamadan airfield in Iran to fly combat missions in Syria, an unprecedented development in bilateral history.

    This decision "will have major implications," Evseev noted. Not only will it have a positive impact on the situation in Syria, but the cooperation between Russia and Iran will also contribute to regional stability since it will prevent the United States and its allies from launching military interventions in the Middle East.

    The Russian Aerospace Forces have drastically increased their activities in Syria due to recent developments in Aleppo. The second largest city in the country has been controlled by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and radical groups, including al-Nusra Front. Although the SAA succeeded in cutting off all militant supply routes in late July, the radicals have repeatedly tried to break the siege.

    On August 6, terrorist groups managed to open a narrow corridor in the Ramouseh district located in southwestern Aleppo, encircling SAA troops nearby. Damascus-led forces and their allies pushed the militants back to rebel-held areas on August 9, but the radicals received a large supply of weapons and ammunition that will prolong the battle for the city.

    Experts agree that the fate of Syria is largely linked to the outcome of this standoff.

    In this context "Russia found itself facing a tough choice," the analyst said. The country "needed to boost its military presence in Syria due to the escalation of fighting, but understood that this would also hamper the intra-Syrian dialogue and the peace process in the country."

    This is why Moscow decided against deploying additional planes to its Hmeymim airbase and turned to other options, including an agreement with Iran to use the Hamadan airfield. Russia's other options include launching Kalibr-NK cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea. Iraq and Iran have already allowed Russian forces to use their airspace for these airstrikes.

    Moreover, Russia's only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is also scheduled to arrive in the Mediterranean in early autumn.

    As a result, "the process of Russia and Iran moving from strategic dialogue to strategic partnership has accelerated," he added.

    Related:

    Russia Uses Airbase in Iran as a Safeguard Against 'Satellite Surveillance'
    Why West is Against Russia's Use of Iran's Airbase to Crush Terrorists in Syria
    Why Russia Uses Iran's Hamadan Airfield for Airstrikes in Syria
    Russia Catches West Off Guard Again by Enhancing Military Ties With Iran
    Tags:
    Middle East, security, Russian aerial campaign, Syrian conflict, military cooperation, cooperation, Hamadan airbase, Hamadan, Iran, Russia
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