22 August 2016, Nirapad News: Iran said Monday that Russian raids on jihadists in Syria from one of its airbases had ended for now, after accusing Moscow of “showing off” when it revealed the bombing runs.
“It was a specific, authorised mission and it’s over for now. They conducted it and they are gone now,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters in Tehran.
He left open the possibility of future Russian combat flights from the Islamic republic, saying it would depend on “the situation in the region, and according to our permission”.
A Russian military spokesman, Igor Konachenkov, quoted by his defence ministry, said the planes had “carried out all their tasks with success” and were back on home territory.
Any further use of Hamedan base by Russian aircraft would take place “in line with mutual accords on the fight against terrorism and taking into account the situation in Syria”, he said in a statement.
The Russian ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, said nothing prevented a renewed use of Hamedan.
“If the leaders of our two countries consider it necessary and reach the relevant agreements, what sort of problems can there be?” he told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
“For the time being, there are no (Russians) remaining in Hamedan” airbase, he added.
Ghasemi’s comments came a few hours after Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan made a rare public criticism of Russia for revealing that its warplanes were using Hamedan to attack insurgents in Syria.
“Naturally, the Russians are keen to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and that they are active in security issues in the region and the world,” Dehghan told Iran’s Channel 2 television.
“There has been a kind of showing-off and inconsiderate attitude behind the announcement of this news,” he said.
– Iran guarded on Syria role –
Iran and Russia are key backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Tehran has remained relatively guarded about its precise involvement in the conflict.
The Islamic republic is highly sensitive to any suggestion that it would allow foreign militaries to be based in its territory, which is outlawed under its constitution, and has emphasised that Russian planes were only refuelling in Iran.
“(Russia) needed to refuel in an area closer to the operation… But we have definitely not given them a military base,” said Dehghan.
The flights from Iranian territory started on August 16, a day after a visit to Tehran by a Russian deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov.
The use of Hamedan significantly shortened flight-times for Russian warplanes, allowing them to carry increased firepower.
Russia said it struck targets linked to the jihadist Islamic State group and Al-Nusra Front, now known as Fateh al-Sham Front, in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Idlib.
Moscow had previously used short-range craft stationed at its Hmeimim airbase outside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, as well as ships in the Caspian Sea and a submarine in the Mediterranean, to bombard rebels in Syria.
Russia last week dismissed US criticism of the use of Iranian base as a possible violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied that Moscow could be in breach of a ban on supply or transfer of warplanes to Iran without prior approval of the UN Security Council.
“There are no grounds to suspect Russia of breaching the resolution,” he said.
Tehran, for its part, oversees thousands of troops fighting for Assad on the ground, while Russia provides airpower.
Both oppose calls for Assad to step down as a way of resolving the conflict that has killed more than 290,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.