AFP photo of a Russian airbase
Over the weekend Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said that Russia can use its airbase in Hamadan to carry out airstrikes on Syria “for as long as they need” to complete their operations. Also Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim denied that Russia had demanded to use Incirlik airbase in southeast Turkey for its air campaign in Syria.
Dehghan said the Russians can base their aircraft at Hamadan as part of cooperative efforts to fight “terrorist” groups in cooperation with the Syrian regime, which both Moscow and Tehran support to varying degrees.
Russia has based some long-range Tu-22’s from Hamadan, which is a lot closer to Syria than the previous bases they carried out airstrikes from their own country.
Dehghan’s comments, which he made at a news conference on Saturday, coincided with comments made by the Turkish Prime Minister, who stressed that Russia has not demanded usage of Incirlik airbase for its air campaign in Syria.
“Russia had no demands to use Incirlik air base. Those reports are not true,” Yildirim told reporters in Istanbul on Saturday. However he did say that if Russia wants to use the base to attack Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria is it welcome to do so.
But he did insist that, “Russia doesn’t need to use the base. They have bases in Syria.”
The Secretary of the US Air Force, Deborah James, told Rudaw on Friday that she “won’t be ok” with the Russians using Incirlik.
“It would not be OK with me as Secretary of the Air Force. I would not be in favour of such a position,” she said before adding, “Of course people can talk about different things. That’s different from actually coming to an agreement and making such a deal.”
Last Tuesday a member of the Russian upper house of parliament, Igor Morozov, suggested that Turkey could offer Russia usage of Incirlik, describing such a move as “a logical continuation of Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s step toward Russia.”
Morozov also said that Russia might not even need to use Incirlik.
“It is not guaranteed that Russia needs to use Incirlik, but such a decision can be regarded as Turkey’s real readiness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and not just pay lip service,” he said.
Earlier this month President Erdogan, and other senior officials, visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg where both sides agreed to coordinate their actions in Syria.