Iran hints Russia's publicity on airbase use for Syria war led to ban

Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan on Monday criticized Russia for "not having kept its promise" when Russia made public that it was using an Iranian airbase for bombing raids in Syria.

The operations were strategically necessary, but Iran and Russia had agreed not to make them public, Dehghan said in comments carried by Iranian state news agency ISNA.

He emphasized that Iran had allowed Russia to use the airbase only for refueling as part of collaboration against terrorists in Syria, and not allocated it as a "classical military base."

Iran's Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that the country would "temporarily suspend" Russian warplanes from using the Nojeh airbase in Iran's western Hamadan province. Russian warplanes used the airbase last week to launch several strikes into Syria. Iran's constitution does not approve of letting foreign powers use Iranian military facilities. Russia's use of the airbase was the first time in more than 70 years that Iran took such a step.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi described the military cooperation at the airbase as having been a "provisional" arrangement between the two countries.

The Nojeh airbase is "currently closed" to use by Russian warplanes, Ghasemi said Monday in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS. He did not specify why.

Russia and Iran did not have a formal agreement for the use of the base, but do have a number of agreements on collaboration against terrorism, the diplomat said.

"On issues regarding the fight against terrorism and Islamic State, the positions of Iran and Russia are very similar. The situation in the region is important for us. Iran's security depends on it," Ghasemi said.

The United States said last week that, by using the Iranian airbase, Russia could be violating a UN resolution against supplying warplanes to Iran.

Last update: Mon, 22/08/2016 - 14:51

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