Iran’s air force to enter Syria conflict: report
Al-Rai also reported that Russia has provided the Syrian regime with S-300 aerial defense systems.
BEIRUT – Iran is preparing to deploy two fighter jet squadrons to Syria to conduct strikes on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime, according to a Kuwaiti daily with close access to Moscow’s military intervention in the war-torn country.
“The Iranian participation [in the Syrian conflict] is headed for more advancement with preparation for the arrival of two fleets of Iranian planes,” sources in the Damascus joint operations room of the “4+1” military coalition of Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah told Al-Rai‘s newspaper’s chief international correspondent, Elijah J. Magnier.
The sources added that Russian-manufactured Sukhoi jets would be deployed to the Tiyas (T4) airbase east of Homs after Iranian engineers finish preparations at the facility, which is near the Al-Shayrat base where Russia already plans to begin operating from.
“Iran and Russia have agreed that Moscow will perform all repair operations needed by these combat fleets along with provision of the necessary ammunition and the development of the launch systems of these Iranian planes,” the sources added.
Al-Rai also reported that Iran sees its planned aerial intervention in Syria as an opportunity for its pilots to gain valuable operational experience.
Iran has already provided logistical assistance to Russia’s aerial campaign in Syria; with The Aviationist blog run by Rome-based journalist David Cenciotti noting that Iranian F-14 Tomcats had escorted Russian strategic bombers flying over Iran en-route to Syria.
The Iranian jets were spotted in a video released by Russia’s Defense Ministry on November 20 showing Russian Tu-95 bear bombers conducting bombing runs as part of Moscow’s military intervention in Syria.
Al-Rai’s Magnier has written a number of articles in recent weeks on Russia’s bombardment campaign in Syria, claiming access to sources in both the Baghdad and Damascus operation rooms for the “4+1” military coalition of Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah.
On Monday, the journalist reported that Russia was moving to deploy jets in the Al-Shayrat base located approximately 35 kilometers southeast of Homs.
The following day, a US defense official confirmed to Fox News that Russia was already operating helicopters out of the base, and was preparing to land fixed-wing aircrafts at the facility.
Syria receiving S-300s
The dramatic Al-Rai article also claimed that Russia has supplied Syria with an advanced aerial defense system.
“Damascus has received a group of Russian high-end S-300 missiles and these missiles are ready to enter active service,” sources told daily’s Magnier.
“Most importantly, Damascus will
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