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Russia Announces Closer Military Cooperation with Iran in Syria

The Russian government has promised to increase military cooperation with Iran as both countries continue to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“I am convinced that our meeting is going to contribute towards reinforcing friendly relations between Russian and Iranian armed forces,” declared Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. “Our countries face the same challenges and threats in the Middle East region and it is only together that we will be able to fight them.”

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Deghan recently visited Moscow to discuss military options.

“We are seriously with the Syrian government and nation and we have had decisive cooperation with Russia, which has resulted in a change of power balance and creation of a new situation for Syria,” stated Deghan.

Both countries support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the country enters the fifth year of its civil war.

“Reviewing the past agreements to bring faster into result, and the issue of Syria will be among the topic to be discussed during my visit to Russia,” he continued.

Iranian state-run Fars News Agency reported the two governments will “continue the fight and take direct action if Damascus and other Syrian cities come under attack and their backers.” The sides do not trust any of the “regime changers” and will not until they can prove themselves trustworthy.

“Until then, Tehran, Russia, Syria and Hezbollah will resort to any possible means to protect the elected government of Syria and its territorial integrity. This should not come as a surprise,” the agency concluded.

In late September, Russian President Vladimir Putin formed an anti-Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) coalition with Syria and Iran without notifying President Barack Obama’s administration. The New York Times said the agreement allows Moscow to provide the Assad regime with military support, but “could also enable the Kremlin to influence the choice of successor if Mr. Assad were to eventually leave power.”

Shortly thereafter, Putin met with President Obama, who described the meeting as “very constructive” and “surprisingly open.” Neither side divulged details about the 90-minute meeting. The next day, though, Russia began airstrikes in Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry insisted the strikes hit the Islamic State, but sources and pictures showed the planes target areas held by any group opposing Assad.

A month later, Russia delivered Iranian weapons into Syria 20 times over the span of 10 days. Eyewitnesses spotted the planes on the tarmac at a Moscow base in Syria. Fox News also learned Iran sent military personnel on civilian airline Mahan Air.

“Tehran’s support has been crucial to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s survival. Besides significant financial aid to Assad, Iran has acknowledged that its Revolutionary Guard officers are on the ground in Syria in an advisory role,” reported Fox News. “There have been multiple Iranian officers and soldiers killed in fighting in Syria, though Tehran denies the presence of actual combat troops in the country.”

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