Russian warplanes take off from Iran to target IS in Syria

From The Associated Press:

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian warplanes took off on Tuesday from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters and other militants in Syria, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, widening Moscow’s bombing campaign in a major development in the country’s civil war.

The long-range bombers took off from near the city of Hamedan, around 280 kilometers (175 miles) southwest of the Iranian capital, and struck targets in three provinces in northern and eastern Syria.

It is virtually unheard of in Iran’s recent history to allow a foreign power to use one of its bases to stage attacks from. Russia has also never used the territory of another country in the Middle East for its operations inside Syria, where it has been carrying out an aerial campaign in support of President Bashar Assad’s government for nearly a year.

The announcement suggests cooperation on the highest levels between Moscow and Tehran, both key allies of the embattled president.

It comes a day after Russia’s defense minister said Moscow and Washington are edging closer to an agreement on Syria that would help defuse the situation in the besieged northern city of Aleppo.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the agreement would “allow us to find common ground and start fighting together for bringing peace to that territory,” adding that Russian representatives are “in a very active stage of talks with our American colleagues.”

A U.S. official said, however, that discussions with the Russians are still ongoing and no agreement is close. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Russia and the United States have been discussing greater coordination for striking extremists in Syria, but they have been unable to reach …

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