Iranian foreign minister: Russia can use our bases to hit Syria
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Iranian foreign minister: Russia can use our bases to hit Syria

Zarif tells Reuters that Russian airstrikes on rebels would be approved on a ‘case by case’ basis

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

File: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrive for a joint press conference with the Russian and Iranian presidents at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 28, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Sergei Karpukhin)
File: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrive for a joint press conference with the Russian and Iranian presidents at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 28, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Sergei Karpukhin)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif revealed Tuesday that his country would allow Russian jets to use its bases to bomb Syrian rebels, in a partial return to an earlier deal that was halted after Moscow boasted its planes were operating out of Iran, upsetting local lawmakers.

In a report published Tuesday Zarif told Reuters that Tehran would permit use of Iranian air bases to launch strikes against Syrian opposition groups only on a “case by case basis.”

Iran and Russia are closely cooperating in Syria and provide political, financial and military backing to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Iran is Assad’s main regional ally and has provided steady military, financial, and political support to the regime.

Russia’s military involvement has included airstrikes and forces on the ground against rebels seeking to oust Assad.

Last August the Russian defense ministry revealed its planes were carrying out bombing missions from Iranian bases but the strategy was quickly cancelled after some Iranian lawmaker protested that it was against the country’s constitution to allow foreign forces to operate from bases on its territory, and after the Iranian defense minister complained to Moscow for publicizing the activities.

A Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac at an air base near Hamedan, Iran, Monday, August 15, 2016. (WarfareWW Photo via AP)
A Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac at an air base near Hamedan, Iran, Monday, August 15, 2016. (WarfareWW Photo via AP)

“Russia doesn’t have a military base [in Iran], we have good cooperation, and on a case by case basis, when it is necessary for Russians fighting terrorism to use Iranian facilities, we will make a decision,” Zarif said.

Zarif joined President Hassan Rouhani in a delegation that arrived in Moscow on Monday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month an Iranian official confirmed Russian warplanes are still using Iran’s airspace to carry out airstrikes in Syria.

The conflict, that is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people, began in 2011 as protests against the Assad government.

AFP contributed to this report.

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