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State Dept: Russia’s Use of Iranian Air Base May Have Violated Security Council Resolution

Russia’s recent use of an Iranian air base to launch airstrikes in Syria “could very well be a violation of” the United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

When asked about a provision in Security Council resolution 2231 that forbids the transfer of arms, including bombers, to Iran without prior approval, Toner said, “If these reports are true, it could very well be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which, as you noted, prohibits the supply, sale, or transfer of combat aircraft to Iran unless approved in advanced by the UN Security Council.”

Resolution 2231 stipulates that the Security Council must sign off on any direct or indirect transfer “to Iran, or for the use in or benefit of Iran, of any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems.” Toner said that he did not believe that the requisite approval was given, and that the State Department was looking into the matter.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the State Department’s criticism on Wednesday, arguing that Russia was not supplying Iran with the bombers. “These aircraft are being used by Russia’s air force with Iran’s agreement as a part of an anti-terrorist operation at the request of Syria’s leadership,” he said at a press conference in Moscow.

Both Russia and the Iran-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have violated international law by dropping incendiary bombs over civilian areas in Syria in recent weeks, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“The Syrian government and Russia should immediately stop attacking civilian areas with incendiary weapons,” said Steve Goose, HRW’s arms director. “These weapons inflict horrible injuries and excruciating pain, so all countries should condemn their use in civilian areas.”

Reports of increased Russian and Iranian military cooperation come just days after the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum called on the international community to intervene in Syria, where it said the Assad regime is “committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians, including acts of mass killing, torture and targeted attacks on medical facilities and health care providers.”

[Photo: U.S. Department of State / YouTube ]