Russia sprung into a second day of an air campaign against Syrian militants from an Iranian air base, rejecting all U.S. suggestions on its co-operation with Tehran violating a U.N. resolution. Moscow considered claims on violation ‘illogical.’
State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Tuesday called the Iranian deployment “unfortunate,” saying the United States was looking into whether the move violated U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which prohibits the supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran.
Russia bristled at those comments on Wednesday after announcing that Russian SU-34 fighter bombers flying from Iran’s Hamadan air base had for a second day struck ‘ISIS’ targets in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province, destroying two command posts and killing 150, Reuters reported.
Moscow first used Iran as a base from which to launch air strikes in Syria on Tuesday, deepening its involvement in the five-year-old Syrian civil war and angering the United States.
Russia’s use of the Iranian air base comes amid intense fighting for the Syrian city of Aleppo, where Syrian Opposition members are battling Syrian regime forces backed by the Russian military and as Moscow and Washington are working towards a deal on Syria that could see them cooperate more closely.
Russia backs Syrian head of regime, Bashar al-Assad, while the United States believes the Syrian leader must step down and is supporting opposition forces trying to topple him.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday any U.S. dismay over Moscow’s military co-operation with Iran should not distract from efforts to realize the U.S.-Russia deal on coordinating action in Syria and securing a ceasefire.
Lavrov said there were no grounds to suggest Russia’s actions had violated the U.N. resolution, saying Moscow was not supplying Iran with military aircraft for its own internal use, something the document prohibits.
“These aircraft are being used by Russia’s air force with Iran’s agreement as a part of an anti-terrorist operation at the request of Syria’s leadership,” Lavrov told a Moscow news conference, after holding talks with Murray McCully, New Zealand’s foreign minister.