TEHRAN: Iran’s defence minister said Russia had been “inconsiderate” and was “showing off” by revealing its use of an Iranian airbase for bombing missions into Syria, in a televised interview late on Sunday. The apparent criticism of a close ally came after Russia announced last week that it was using Iran’s Hamedan base in western Iran for aerial strikes against insurgent groups in Syria.
“Naturally, the Russians are keen to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and that they are active in security issues in the region and the world,” said defence minister Hossein Dehghan in an interview with Iran’s Channel 2 television. “There has been a kind of showing-off and inconsiderate attitude behind the announcement of this news,” he said.
Iran and Russia are key backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Tehran has remained relatively guarded about its precise involvement in the conflict.
The Islamic republic is also highly sensitive to any suggestion that it would allow foreign militaries to be based in its territory, which is outlawed under its constitution. “We have collaborated and will continue to collaborate with Syria and Russia. Russia decided to bring in more planes and boost its speed and accuracy in operations,” Dehghan said. “Therefore, it needed to refuel in an area closer to the operation. That’s why they used the Nojeh base (in Hamedan) but we have definitely not given them a military base.”