Fight for Syria’s Aleppo exposes limits of Russian air power

August 30, 2016 | By | Reply More

Aug 30, – People familiar with Russia’s military said Moscow opted for the sorties from Iran – and Tehran agreed to allow them – because they were struggling to achieve their aim of crushing rebels in the city of Aleppo.

Fight for Syria's Aleppo exposes limits of Russian air powerRussia’s politically-sensitive and ultimately fruitless decision to launch bombing missions on Syria from Iranian soil has exposed the limits to its air power, leaving Moscow in need of a new strategy to advance its aims.

The gamble failed and rebels fighting their ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Aasad, remain ensconced in parts of Aleppo.

Russia began air strikes on Syria in support of Assad on Sept. 30 last year, launched from bases in government-held territory and from warships. Then this month, facing logistical problems in mounting an expensive campaign at a time of tight state finances, it intensified the bombing of Aleppo in what turned out to be a brief series of raids from Iran.

The strikes on the Aleppo rebels seem to have achieved little beyond stirring a political row in Iran, whose constitution forbids the establishment of any kind of foreign military base.

The fact that Russia went to such lengths to achieve its aims in Aleppo and still failed could strengthen the hand of those in Moscow who believe the operation in Syria has reached a watershed, and that it is time to seek a negotiated solution.

“I get the feeling we’re like a horse at the circus, running around in a circle since Sept. 30 when we first deployed our aircraft there,” said a person close to the Russian defense ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Our forces are insufficient, our coordination with the Iranians is not at the required level. We need to change something. What, I don’t know.”

IRANIAN SENSITIVITIES

Russia’s defense ministry announced on Aug. 16 that it had for the first time used an air base in Iran from which to launch air attacks on Syria.

On subsequent days, long-range Russian Tupolev 22M3 bombers, escorted by Sukhoi fighters, took off on sorties from the Nojeh air base, near the Iranian city of Hamadan.

Letting Russia base aircraft there was politically sensitive for Iran: the last time a foreign power had used an Iranian air base was in World War Two.

Some Iranian lawmakers called it a breach of the constitution while Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said that, by publicly revealing the arrangement, Moscow had committed a “betrayal of trust”.

By Aug. 22, Iran’s foreign ministry announced that Russia’s use of the base had ended. In Moscow, the defense ministry said aircraft operating from the bases had completed their tasks.

A spokesmen for Russia’s defense ministry and spokeswoman for the foreign ministry did not respond to Reuters questions about its objectives in Aleppo and its use of the Iranian base.

But Andrei Klimov, a pro-Kremlin member of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said the cost of the Syrian operation may have been a factor.

“We are trying to conduct the operation in Syria within certain sums,” he told Reuters. “The defense ministry has other expenditures. Therefore to optimize costs, more economical routes are sought. Any sensible country does the same thing.”

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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