Russia uses air bases in Iran to bomb jihadist targets in Syria targeting Islamic State and the National Nusra Front positions. Possibility for a joint effort between Russia and the United States in Aleppo, but Washington fails to confirm it. Agreement between Beijing and Damascus to train military personnel and send Chinese humanitarian aid to Syria.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Moscow and Tehran are strengthening bilateral ties and Russia is stepping up its ambitions for influence in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Chinese military experts are preparing to provide "aid and military" assistance to the Syrian government, in the context of an agreement reached last weekend, confirming Beijing's growing involvement in the region.
The Syrian conflict, five years after it first began, would appear to have become the background for an increasingly significant alliance to counter US hegemony (and its Sunni Arab allies).
The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed the use of an Iranian air base in the west of the country, for air raids on jihadist targets in Syria. For experts this is a strong signal confirming the military and strategic cooperation between Moscow Tehran.
Yesterday some long-range Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighters took off from Iranian air base Hamedan. The aircraft struck positions of the Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (the former Nusra Front) in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al-Zour, killing - according to Russian sources - a "large number" of militia. 27 civilians also died in the attacks.
For the first time since the beginning of the military campaign in the Middle Eastern country last year Russia has hit strategic targets in Syria from a third country. Tehran is the main ally of Bashar al-Assad in the area and has provided military and financial aid since the war began in 2011.
Moscow's Ministry of Defense - which in recent days has re-established relations with Turkey – has confirmed sending an unspecified number of bombers and Sukhoi-34 to Iran. Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran's security, added that the two countries "have a strategic cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria" and "share" facilities and expertise.
Last year, Tehran and Moscow signed an agreement on military cooperation centered on the training of troops and the fight against terrorism. And in recent days Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his maximum government expert on Middle East issues to Tehran .
The attacks came following the announcement by the Russian Defense of a possible agreement with the United States, to form a common front against the Islamic State in Aleppo. Fighting between the regular army and rebels has intensified as has the risk of a serious humanitarian crisis in the "northern capital" of Syria.
The Department of State has not ruled out possible co-operation between Washington and Moscow in Aleppo, although at present there are no official agreements. And on the use of Iranian bases by Russian fighters, the heads of US Defense describe the step as "unfortunate, but not surprising". Meanwhile, the presence of China among the players on the Middle East chessboard is becoming increasingly evident. This has been confirmed in recent months by the appointment of Xie Xiaoyan, a former Beijing Ambassador to Iran, as special envoy to Syria. In recent days, a Chinese delegation - led by Guan Youfei, director of the Center for International Cooperation at the Central Military Commission - met with the Syrian Ministry of Defence.
The two sides reached an agreement on the training of military personnel and the deployment of Chinese humanitarian aid in Syria. It should be mentioned here that China has supported the positions of Russia on the resolutions of the UN Security Council on Syria, although Beijing has so far refrained from direct involvement in the war. Moreover China's goal is a political agreement that guarantees stability and a foothold in trade and business in the region.