Russia handed strategic airbase in Syria to Iran, in a bid to prevent a clash with Israel
Russia handed the T4 Airbase in Homs, Syria to Iran amid ongoing threats of air strikes by Israel. The Russians have used the T4 since 2015 to station their helicopter task force.
Russia’s military had to leave the Syrian T4 Airbase, according to Syria’s Zaitun news agency. The reports confirm the Russians withdrew equipment, weapons and ammunition from the airbase. 8 military trucks were particularly seen leaving the airbase immediately. The helicopters were redeployed to the Qamishli Airbase.
Local sources are pushing out a message that the decision to leave the T4 was made under pressure by Damascus and Iran. We believe however, the Russians handed the airbase themselves as a trade-off to prevent a clash with Israel.
First of all, the Kremlin knew Iran would like to move its weapons supply center for Syria from the Damascus international airport to a Syrian air base located very far from the capital city. The decision is related to the latest wave of Israeli attacks on the Damascene airport.IRGC Quds Force facilities including its cargo logistic center & training camp all around its HQ in Damascus International Airport, Jan.2019.
The Quds Brigade of the Revolutionary Guard Corps has its own independent compound within the airport, just tens of meters from the international terminal through which passengers and tourists enter and leave Syria. Israel claims that the Iranian operations at the airport, which Russia is ignoring, endangers passengers and imperils the regime’s safety as well.
During the war years, the international airport turned into a hub where arms hailing from Iran have been received, sorted, stored and supplied.
Iran’s presence in Damascus airport violates the Russian promise to keep the Iranians at least 80 kilometers from Israel’s border (an obligation the Russians later qualified, saying it didn’t include Damascus). The airport is about 50 kilometers from the border. The decision to leave the T4 by the Russians had both Iran and Moscow satisfied, therefore.slamic State view on T4 airbase, 2016.
Ammunition and surface-to-air missiles are smuggled to the Damascus airport on board planes leased from private Iranian companies by the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Arms shipments are stored for hours to weeks, before their transport by truck to Hezbollah in Lebanon, or to Iranian army bases in Syria, or to the Syrian army itself.
Secondly, the T4 airbase has been the target for air strikes by Israel for some years, as, but for the Russian military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Lebanese Hezbollah task forces are there, as well as Iranian UAVs control points. Russia’s SA-10 Grumble systems securing the base turned out to be useless, meanwhile.
Iran’s forces refused to leave the T4, thus posing risks to the Russians. So, the Kremlin tilted toward the relations between Russia and Israel within the given scenario, leaving the T4 airbase, and put the Iranians under air strikes by Israel after the Iranian forces occupy the entire T4 airbase.
Frozen warlike scenario is obvious to just exacerbate the tensions in the Shiite-Russian alliance in Syria. Clashes between Russians, Iranians and the Assad regime in Syria are regular. Some rage out of control and end in exchange of fire with casualties on both sides. As many parties are involved in the conflict, the Russians, not being a local actor, are locked in backing the conflicting parties ad hoc, thus smoothing the way for the Russia’s-built coalition to weaken.
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