Yesterday, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that Moscow deployed Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 bombers to the Hamedan Air Base in Iran. This move marked a new step in the Russian-Iranian military cooperation over the Syrian war and conducted significant jitters among states of the US-led anti-Assad alliance.
Many experts already noted that deployment of Russian warplanes in Iran will allow Moscow to reduce the flying time to targets in Syria. Кussian bombers are now capable of carrying three times greater payload and airstrikes can be delivered faster and more cheaply. This also allows Moscow to increase the overal air support to the Syrian government forces on the ground.
However, the deplyoment has one more strategic implication on the situation in Syria barely covered by the MSM.
In 2015 and early 2016, the Russian Aerospace Forces deployed in Syria has a lack of capacity to support the Syrian government’s operations in eastern and southeastern Syria (an old SF map below). Location of the Russian Air Base in Latakia just does not allow the Russians to provide timely and intense air support in these areas.
This was especially clearly seen during the Syrian government’s failed advance on the ISIS-controlled Tabaqa Air Base in the provicne of Raqqa. Tactical and strategic mistakes on the ground along with a lack of timely air support led to the inability to develop the initial success against ISIS and pro-government forces were forced to retreat from the province.
Now, with Tu-22M3 and Su-34 bombers deployed in Hamadan, Moscow is able to achieve tactical and strategic goals in the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Raqqa and along the whole Syrian-Iraqi border (a new SF map below). On August 17, Russian Su-34 bombers already started to purge ISIS targets in Deir Ezzor.
This will allow the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance to keep the frontline against ISIS in the provinces of Homs, Deir Ezzor and Raqqa under a close control and repel any terrorist attempts to use the ongoing battle for Aleppo for counter-attacks against the Syrian army and its allies.
In the future, this could also allow the pro-government forces to normalize the situation in the city of Deir Ezzor and deblock Syrian army units that stuck in never ending clashes with ISIS militants in the area.