Russia defends using Iran base for Syria air strikes

Al Jazeera

Russia has said its use of an Iranian airbase to carry out bombing missions in Syria does not violate a UN resolution that forbids supplying warplanes to Tehran. "No supplying, selling or transferring of warplanes to Iran has occurred," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday in comments reported by the Russian state news agency TASS. Lavrov was referring to comments by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who said on Tuesday that Russia might be violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by using Iranian territory to launch air strikes in Syria. The resolution prohibits the supply, sale or transfer of combat aircraft to Iran unless approved in advance by the UN Security Council. Toner also described Russia's move as "unfortunate but not surprising or unexpected", saying the air strikes that purport to target the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in Syria in actuality "predominately target moderate Syrian opposition forces".


Syrian pilot whose plane crashed in Turkey says aircraft was shot down en route to Idlib

The Japan Times

ISTANBUL – A Syrian air force pilot who bailed out as his warplane crashed on Turkish territory told a Turkish rescue team his MiG-23 had been shot down, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday. The 56-year-old pilot was identified as Mehmet Sufhan, and medical staff said he was not in critical condition despite some fractures in his spine. He is being treated at a hospital in the Hatay region, a hospital spokeswoman said on Sunday. In an initial statement to Turkish authorities, Sufhan said his aircraft was shot down on its way to strike rural areas near Idlib in northern Syria, Anadolu reported. He said he had taken off from Latakia in Syria.


Israel hints it could hit Iran's 'air force' in Syria

The Japan Times

JERUSALEM – Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian "air force" deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 airstrike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites.


ISIL attacks kill 24 Iraqi troops

Al Jazeera

At least two dozen Iraqi security forces were killed in suicide attacks launched by ISIL on Sunday in restive Anbar province, the scene of near-daily violence. The news comes as the United States announced the deployment of more US Marines on the ground to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS. An Iraqi military source told Al Jazeera at least 24 Iraqi forces were killed, while 12 others were wounded in the blasts in the municipality of Haqlaniyah, southwest of Hadeetha city. ISIL fighters with explosive vests snuck into Haqlaniyah and at least three entered a municipal building and detonated their explosives. Clashes were ongoing between ISIL and Iraqi soldiers backed by popular mobilisation forces, said the source on condition of anonymity.


Turkey, Russia, US army chiefs discuss anti-ISIL steps

Al Jazeera

The top generals from Turkey, US and Russia have met to discuss developments in Syria and Iraq to prevent " the risk of a conflict" during their fight against ISIL. Hulusi Akar, Turkish chief of staff; Joseph Dunford, US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; and Valery Gerasimov, Russian chief of general staff, met on Tuesday in the southern Turkish city of Antalya. "Common issues relating to regional security, in particular Syria and Iraq, are being discussed at the meeting," the Turkish army said in a statement, without giving further detail. Russia confirmed the news of the meeting, with the defence ministry saying in a statement to Russian news agencies: "A joint discussion on security issues in Syria and Iraq is planned." Binali Yildirim, Turkey's prime minister, said the meeting would continue on Wednesday.