Fire and smoke gush out of buildings following reported air strikes on the Syrian besieged rebel-held town of ?Daraya near the capital Damascus on August 16, 2016. / AFP / FADI DIRANI
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Russia used Iran as a base from which to launch airstrikes against Syrian militants for the first time Tuesday, widening its air campaign in Syria and deepening its involvement in the Middle East.In a move underscoring Moscow's increasingly close ties with Tehran, long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used Iran's Hamadan air base to strike a range of targets in Syria. It was the first time Russia has used the territory of another nation, apart from Syria itself, to launch such strikes since the Kremlin launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar Assad in September last year. It said its Iranian-based bombers had been escorted by fighter jets based at Russia's Hmeimim air base in Syria's Latakia Province.Russian media reported Tuesday that Russia had also requested and received permission to use Iran and Iraq as a route to fire cruise missiles from its Caspian Sea fleet into Syria, as it has done in the past.Separately, Syrian state media said China wants to have closer military ties with Syria, citing a senior Chinese officer as saying during a rare visit Damascus where he met Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Freij.
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