By Ollie Richardson
On 16th August, 2016, Reuters reported that the Iranian National Security Council had given Russia its explicit permission to use all their military bases to combat terrorism:
“Iranian-Russian cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria is a strategic one and we share our potential and facilities in this field,” Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
This news follows the release of photographs of Russian Tu-22m3 long range bombers being readied at Iran’s Hamedan airbase for military manoeuvres against terrorists in Syria:
The deployment of aircraft to Iran will reduce the travelling time to Syria by 60%, and runs parallel with the deployment of the Russian Black Sea Fleet & Caspian Flotilla, which began a 5-day drill in the Mediterranean & Caspian sea from the 15th to the 20th August. All of the ships deployed are armed with Kalibr cruise missiles and, after asking for permission from Iraq and Iran for airspace access, in combination with the Tupolevs, have already been put to work on terrorists’ postitions in Idlib, Deir Ezzor Saraqeb, Aleppo (al-Bab), and Raqqa – Al-Nusra warehouses being one of many targets destroyed.
Russia has quietly increased its number of jets in Syria, adding 4 new squadrons to its fleet at Hymemim, in order to help the Syrian Army repel the influx of terrorists in Aleppo. This 5-day military drill will also surely be related to the wave of terrorist reinforcements to the oldest city in Syria, and the will also aim to help push the Kurds further into Aleppo from the West.
Russia has so far been unsuccessful in negotiating with the Obama administration, who, in all honesty, has been running circles around Russia, as it perpetually arms and replenishes its proxy forces on the ground. Shoigu’s biggest frustration perhaps is the lack of coordination between his Air Force and the ally forces on the ground, which has led to friendly fire incidents and a general disjointed effort to hold the line around Aleppo. This resulted in the terrorists creating a minor but existential 1km corridor in SW Aleppo.
The Syrian Arab Army is currently overwhelmed by the sheer number of Jihadists coming to Aleppo, and without the presence of the Russian Air Force, Syria would have already been partitioned ala 1945 Berlin. Against the background of this, the Russian Center for Reconciliation has announced over 400 settlements have now signed up to the ceasefire plan and the “moderates” have not stopped their shelling of civilians:
“Jaysh al-Islam formations, which had claimed to belong to the opposition, have performed mortar shelling of Arbil, Harasta, Haush al-Shalaq, Jaubar, Jisrein and Duma in the Damascus province.
In the Latakia province, armed formations of the Ahrar-ash-Sham armed grouping have shelled the Ara inhabited area.”
The key message to take from all of this information is that Russia still has, and will continue to have the military might to force the US to sit at the negotiating table, but the fact that Iran has now deepened its relationship with Moscow not just in Syria, but also in countering OPEC, is a firm message to the US that they may have their proxies, but Russia has its allies too. Russia cannot win the war with bombs and supplies alone, and will need to ensure that the line around Aleppo not only holds, but strengthens in the face of the relentless Takfiri barrage. If Syria is to retain its territorial integrity, Aleppo must not fall into the hands of the US…
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