Seen earlier at Hot Air, "Great Game Over: Russia launching attacks from Iran to defend Assad regime."
And see the New York Times, "Russia Sends Bombers to Syria Using Base in Iran":
MOSCOW — Russia launched a fleet of bombers bound for Syria on Tuesday from an Iranian air base, becoming the first foreign military to operate from Iran’s soil since at least World War II.More.
Russian use of the base, with Iran’s obvious support, appeared to set back or at least further complicate Russia’s troubled relations with the United States, which has been working with Russia over how to end the Syria conflict.
While American officials said they were not surprised by the Russia-Iran military collaboration, it appeared to catch them off guard, with no solid information on the Kremlin’s intentions. “I think we’re still trying to assess exactly what they’re doing,” a State Department deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters in Washington.
The arrangement, permanent or not, enables Russia to bring more firepower to the Syrian conflict, and far greater military flexibility. Analysts said the new arrangement could also expand Moscow’s political influence in the Middle East and speed the growing convergence of interests between Moscow and Tehran.
Continue reading the main story
From the air base, in Hamadan, northwest Iran, the Russian bombers destroyed ammunition dumps and a variety of targets linked to the Islamic State and other groups that had been used to support militants battling in Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Historians and American officials said Tuesday that the Iranian decision to let Russia base its planes and support operations in Iran — even temporarily — was a historic one.
“This didn’t even happen under the shah,” said John Limbert, a former American foreign service officer who was stationed in Iran, referring to the reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi...
You have to remember the convoluted politics of the conflict. First the U.S. wanted Assad "to go." But when Islamic State gained a stronghold, the Obama administration put Assad's ouster on the back burner, to focus on the jihad threat. But Russia and Iran both work to prop up the Syrian regime, so the Russian strikes on Islamic State aren't really designed as helping U.S. interests in some kind of U.S. entente with Moscow. Russia's helping Iran prop up Assad.
And it's Putin who's driving the current dynamics of international politics. Weird, actually.