A top Iranian official admitted on December 21 that Tehran and Moscow shared a base in Syria to coordinate their military support for the country’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

“We have a joint headquarter in Syria where Iran, with Russia’s assistance, conducts an advisory mission to support the Syrian army and the resistance forces,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was quoted in Fars News Agency, a mouthpiece of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). He also acknowledged Russia’s request to use the Iranian airspace for military operations in Syria.

Comment:

Shamkhani’s admission of a joint Russian-Iranian military base inside Syria is no surprise. Tehran and Moscow have cooperated closely in the past years to crush the Syrian opposition forces – inflicting immense destruction and human suffering on the Syrian people.

Shamkhani’s remarks also show that, when it comes to Iran’s destabilizing role and support for terrorism in the Middle East, the so-called “moderate” figures within the Rouhani government and Iranian hardliners are largely on the same page.

President Hassan Rouhani, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s approval, tasked Shamkhani to lead SNSC in September 2013. And in June this year, the Iranian government also appointed Shamkhani the senior coordinator for political, military and security affairs with Syria and Russia. It has been under Shamkhani's leadership that Iran and Russia have enhanced their joint military efforts in Syria at the expense of the country's destruction and the growth of terrorism in the region.