Russia’s using of an Iranian air base to launch airstrikes on combatants in Syria doesn’t just “complicate” things according to the US State Department—it could also violate international law. At question is United Nations Resolution 2231, one of the UN resolutions that addresses Iran. “It’s a bit more nuanced and complicated. It involves sometimes allowing certain weaponry to be used or housed in Iran,” said spokesman Mark Toner in Wednesday’s press briefing posted to the State Department website. “Again, I don’t have the language in front of me, but it’s very nuanced and it’s very complex… We’re assessing whether this would constitute a violation.”
While lawyers are reviewing the Russian decision to use Hamedan Air Base in Iran, Toner said that the actions at the least “not helpful.” Said Toner, “It continues to complicate what is already a very dangerous situation in and around [the Syrian city of] Aleppo when you have Russia using Iranian air bases as a way to carry out more intensive bombing runs that are hitting, continue to hit, civilian populations. And so our concerns remain very vivid.” Russia, not surprisingly, disagreed with the US position.
Quoting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Mission to the UN posted to Twitter on Wednesday, “There are no reasons to suspect #Russia of violating @UN Security Council Resolution 2231.” A photo included in the Russian Mission to the UN Tweet included their argument on why the use of the Iranian air base isn’t a concern.
“In this case, there were no supply, sale, or transfer of combat jets to Iran,” said the Tweeted image, which overlaid the text over a photo of Lavrov. The Twitter feed said the airstrikes were at the request of the Syrian regime, which is allied with both Iran and Russia.
Hundreds of thousands have died in the Syrian civil war, with many more in refugee status because of the fighting. ISIS and other terror groups have seized the vacuum of power, with ISIS basing part of their Islamic empire in Syria. The US has led a coalition of airstrikes on ISIS, and while Russia claims to be targeting the same enemy, there have long been concerns the Russians are also hitting Syrian opposition forces.
A news release from Russia’s Ministry of Defense on Tuesday’s bombings launched from Iran argued that the targets were terrorists. “Ammunition depots, training camps and control centres destroyed by the bombing had been used for support of militant groupings near Aleppo,” said the statement, posted to the Ministry website.
Toner said that the UN Security Council would need to review whether or not violations of UN Resolution 2231 had occurred by Russia using the airbase, which he noted would give Russia ample time to defend their actions. But legalize aside, the US is still concerned by the impact of the Russian bombing campaign.
Toner said they are “trying to get a cessation of hostilities back in place in Syria, and this doesn’t help it… It’s only exacerbating what is already a very dangerous situation.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 17, 2016)