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THE AUGUST 16 announcement by the governments of Russia and Iran that Russia had deployed fighter jets at the Iranian airbase in Hamadan (southwest of Tehran) and that sorties were executed against military targets of Islamic State and Jabhat al-Fateh a-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in Syria is a turning point in developments in the region.
The direct cause of this development seems to be operational.
To date, Russia has used its planes to assist the Assad regime from its own bases in southern Russia and, since September 2015, from the Hmeimim air base near Latakia in Syria.
The southern Russian bases lie some 3,000 km from Syria, while flying the planes out of Hamadan cuts the route to Syrian targets down to only 700 km.
The change means that long-range Tupolev Tu-22 bombers can increase payloads from 5-8 tons when flying out of Russia up to 22 tons when flying out of Iran.