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Moscow coordinating with
Iran, Hezbollah: report

Al-Rai said that Russia has set up joint operation centers in Damascus and Baghdad.

Putin and Khamenei. (AFP/Mikhail Klimentyev)

BEIRUT – Russia has established two joint operation centers with Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Iraq to coordinate their military activities, according to a Kuwaiti daily.

 

“Talk of a conflict of interests between Iran and Russia over Syria is naïve. Russia is coordinating every military step with Iran,” Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai reported Thursday morning.

 

“Likewise, there is complete coordination between Russia and Hezbollah, which represents the pillar of the attacking and defending forces on the ground in Syria and Iraq,” a source told the newspaper.

 

“Moscow has decided—in agreement with Tehran and Hezbollah—[to implement] joint coordination and militarily action between Russia, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq.”

 

The Al-Rai article comes after a pro-Hezbollah daily reported on September 22 that Russia had formed an alliance with Iran, Syria, Iraq and the Lebanese party to share intelligence and plan military operations.

 

Al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin also said that Russian forces were coordinating with Hezbollah in Syria, claiming that Russian military personnel had conducted a field survey of Syrian regime positions alongside Hezbollah officers.

 

Joint operation centers

 

Al-Rai went into details on the purported command centers that Russia was participating in alongside their allies.

 

“Joint operations rooms were established in Damascus and Baghdad a few weeks ago,” the report said.

 

The main purpose of the operations room in the Iraqi capital was to coordinate intelligence activities between Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah, a source said, adding that the center was run by two Iranian and Iraqi commanders.

 

Meanwhile, according to the source, the operations room in Damascus is “for directing combat operations, and is run by a Russian general with full authority.”

 

Hours after the Al-Rai article was published, Reuters reported that Hezbollah was ready to join a large regime offensive in northwestern Syria.

 

“Hundreds of Iranian troops arrived in Syria 10 days ago with weapons to take part in ground operations in rebel-held areas of northern Syria, and Lebanon’s ally Hezbollah is preparing to join the operation,” Lebanese sources told the news agency.

 

The sources added that the ground operation would be supported by Russian airstrikes.

 

Moscow announced Wednesday that it had begun its air campaign in Syria, insisting it hit “eight ISIS terror group targets,” while rebel groups, the US and France all said Russia had not bombed the extremist group.

 

On Wednesday morning, activists and rebels said that state-of-the-art Russian fighter jets had conducted bombing runs on Lataminah, a town northwest of Hama, as well as a region north of Homs, neither of which are ISIS strongholds.

 

Syrian state TV, for its part, reported that Russian jets hit ISIS targets near Homs’ Rastan and Talbisah—where ISIS does not have a presence—as well as areas near Hama’s Salamiyah, where the group does maintain frontlines with regime troops as well the Nusra Front.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AFP/Mikhail Klimentyev)

Moscow decided—in agreement with Tehran and Hezbollah--[to implement] joint coordination and militarily action between Russia, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq.