Russia pulls out warplanes from Iran
Russia has pulled its warplanes out of Iran after conducting airstrikes on Syria from an Iranian base. The announcement comes as Iran's defense ministry criticized Russia for widely publicizing the operation.
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday said Russia had stopped using one of its air bases to conduct strikes on Syria, hours after the country's defense minister accused Moscow of "showing off" in revealing the raids.
"It was a specific, authorized mission and it's over for now. They conducted it and they are gone now," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters in Tehran.
He added Russia might use the airbase in the future depending on "the situation in the region, and according to our permission."
In a statement, Russia's defense ministry confirmed it had withdrawn all of its warplanes from Iran.
Russia stunned the region last week when its bombers carried out at least three days of raids from the Shahid Nojeh Air Base in eastern Iran.
Iranian officials were quick to highlight Russia was only refueling its bombers and not setting up a permanent base.
Moscow's revelations triggered criticism from some Iranian parliamentarians who said it breached the Islamic Republic's constitution, which prohibits foreign military bases on its soil.
Russia's advertisement to the world that it was using the base also appeared to touch a nerve in Iran's defense ministry.
Earlier Monday, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan made rare public criticism of Russia.
"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," Dehghan told Iran's Channel 2 television.
"There has been a kind of showing-off and inconsiderate attitude behind the announcement of this news," he said.
Russia and Iran are the main international backers of the Syrian regime, but Tehran has been more guarded in revealing the full extent of its involvement.
Moscow has short-range aircraft at an airbase outside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia and has launched cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea and Mediterranean. It has also conducted long-range bombing raids from Russia.
Russia airpower has helped various Iran-backed troops fighting by the side of Syria regime, including units of elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, the Shiite Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militia.
cw/jil (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)