For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has permitted another country to use its territory for military operations. Russian aircraft took off from an Iranian air base on Tuesday to fly bombing sorties over Syria. Both Russia and Iran confirmed that Iran had given Russia access to its military facilities, a day after imagery of Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers at the Iranian Hamadan airfield southwest of Tehran circulated on the internet. Russia has not had a military footprint in Iran since 1946.
The Backfire bombers previously had flown missions over Syria from bases in Russia. Staging from Iran significantly shortens the distance to targets in Syria, enabling the warplanes to fly more sorties and carry heavier payloads while reducing maintenance and costs.