This article is based on the number of unconfirmed reports about ongoing military developments and inter-governmental negotiations. However, the SouthFront Analysis & Intelligence team can’t ignore such information. It’s clear that the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKO) will need access to the Iraqi airspace to successfully combat ISIS in the eastern part of Syria. Otherwise terrorists will be able to withdraw to Iraq and exercise successful offensive actions from there.
There are a number of reports from the unofficial sources that China’s J-15 fighter jets could shortly join the Russian air campaign in Syria.
Moreover, the Iraq government has offered the Kremlin an air base for targeting the Islamic State in the Iraqi and Syrian territories.
On account of this, Russia’s military operatin in Syria will have five additional members: China, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hizballah.
The J-15 warplanes will take off from the Chinese Liaoning-CV-16 aircraft carrier, which will reach Syrian shores in the nearest time [unconfirmed]. It will be China’s first military operation in the Middle East as well as the carrier’s first taste of real combat.
The main problem of the China’s military is a serious lack in real-life practice.
The Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi commented on the situation in Syria at a UN Security Council session on Thursday:
“The world cannot afford to stand by and look on with folded arms, but must also not arbitrarily interfere.”
We remember, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that Iraq will “welcome” the Russian Air Forces to fight ISIS in his country.
A joint Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi information center has already started work in Baghdad to share intelligence information and coordinate the countries’ efforts against terrorists.
Following the sources, we can predict that the Russians could get access to the Al Taqaddum Air Base at Habbaniyah, 74 km west of Baghdad. It will become a forward station for the Russian air corridor to Syria and will serve as a launching-pad for air raids against the terrorists’ infrastructure in northern Iraq and northern Syria.
Thus, Russia could gain a military enclave in Iraq.