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The Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq coalition was formed as a consequence of an agreement reached at the end of September 2015 between Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria to "help and cooperate in collecting information about the terrorist Daesh group" (ISIS) with a view to combatting the advances of the group, according to the statement issued by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.[1][2][3] The statement also cited "the increasing concern from Russia about thousands of Russian terrorists committing criminal acts within ISIS."[1]

In October 2015, it was revealed that the Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq coalition may have been devised during the visit by Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, to Moscow in July 2015.[4][5][6][7] During the early days of the operation Russian Air Force were backed by Syrian Armed Forces, Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, and allied militias from the ground.[8][9] The United States, along with its Western and Arab allies, have criticized this coalition; most airstrikes during the first week of the campaign, they allege, struck areas held by rebel groups opposed to both the Syrian government and ISIS. Months of raids led by the US-led coalition, allegedly against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targets, however, failed to prevent the expansion of ISIS.[10]


For two and a half decades the Russian elite image of Iran was split. The liberals like Dmitry Medvedev saw Iran as a bargaining in possible deals with the West. On the other hand, Eurasianists like Aleksandr Dugin wanted a Russo-Iranian alliance to counter Western influence.[11] The founding of the Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq Coalition is a major shift in the Russian relations to the Middle East.


Syria's civil war started when opposing groups in the country protested against Assad's rule in early 2011, the protests ultimately turning violent and drawing-in regional opponents and supporters of Assad. The war is being conducted between numerous opponents and government parties. More than 250,000 people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced.[3][9] With most opponents, and their western allies, demanding Assad's leaving as a Prerequisite for talks, efforts to find a solution have failed thus far. Recently, however, Western countries have said Assad could play some role in a transition.[12] Regarding the transitional period Assad has asserted that it was not western countries' job to decide on Syria's future. He has accused the US and its allies of hypocrisy for their support for insurgents, saying that air raids by Syrian jets, now combined by Russia, have been far more productive than anything performed by the year-long air operations by the US-led coalition.[9] According to Assad the countries involved in Us-led coalition, themselves support terrorism, thus they cannot fight terrorism. That is why, he says, several months of fighting against terrorism, has resulted in spreading it.[9]

After the loss of Idlib province to a rebel offensive in the first half of 2015, the situation was judged to have become critical for Assad's survival. High level talks were held between Moscow and Tehran in the first half of 2015 and a political agreement was achieved.[5] In October 2015, it was revealed[5] that the Russian operation in Syria may have been devised during the visit by Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, to Moscow in July 2015, which was then denied by Russian officials.[7][13] Responding to an official request by Syrian government,[14] in September 2015, Russia sent its warplanes and other military hardware and combat troops to Bassel Al-Assad International Airport near Latakia to be ready for their operation.[15]

The agreement

At the end of September 2015, a joint information centre in Baghdad was set up by Iran, Iraq, Russia and Syria to coordinate their operations against ISIL[16] According to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov′s statement made in mid-October 2015, prior to the start of its operations in Syria, Russia invited the U.S. to join the Baghdad-based information center but received what he called an "unconstructive" response. Putin′s proposal that the U.S. receive a high-level Russian delegation and that a U.S. delegation arrive in Moscow to discuss co-operation in Syria was likewise declined by the U.S.[17][18][19] Following an official request from the Syrian government for martial help against rebel and jihadist groups in Syria, the coalition started its work.[20] It was generally thought that Iran would play a leading role in the ground operations of Syria's army and allies[citation needed], whilst Russia would be leading in the air in conjunction with the Syrian air force, thereby establishing a complementary role.[21] For Western countries and the Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq coalition ISIS has been a common enemy, although the eash country has very different friends and opposing views of how to solve the crisis.[9]

In an interview with Iranian TV, Assad said that the success of this military agreement was vital to save the Middle East from destruction. He said that the year-long air campaign by US-led coalition had been counterproductive and had helped terrorism to spread and win new recruits, but that the new coalition of Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, could achieve real results.[9]

Iran's role

Other than being a crucial thoroughfare to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria has been the only consistent ally for Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Iran has provided significant support for the Syrian Government in the Syrian Civil War, including logistical, technical and financial support.[22] In April 2014, Hossein Amir-Abdolahian, Iranian deputy foreign minister, said: "We aren’t seeking to have Bashar Assad remain president for life. But we do not subscribe to the idea of using extremist forces and terrorism to topple Assad and the Syrian government."[23] On 24 July General Qasem Soleimani visited Moscow[4] to devise the details of the plan for coordinated military action in Syria.[5][6] In October 2015, it was revealed[5] that the Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq coalition may have been devised during his visit.[5][7][13]

Citing two Lebanese sources, Reuters reported on October 1, 2015 that hundreds of Iranian troops arrived in Syria over the previous 10 days and would soon join Syrian government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes.[12] Iran has also been training Iraqi Shia militias who are fighting ISIS.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mullen, Jethro (September 27, 2015). "Iraq agrees to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria". CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2015. 
  2. "Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria coordinate against ISIL". Al Jazeera. September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 GORDON, MICHAEL (September 27, 2015). "Russia Surprises U.S. With Accord on Battling ISIS". New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Russia, Iran Seen Coordinating on Defense of Assad Regime in Syria". The Wall Street Journal. 21 September 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 "How Iranian general plotted out Syrian assault in Moscow". 6 October 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Israeli official: Iran mastermind went to Russia – Business Insider". Business Insider. 10 September 2015. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Ъ – Иранский генерал потерялся между Тегераном и Москвой". Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  8. "Iran Prepares Ground Action in Syria With Russian Air Cover". Breitbart. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 "US, allies ask Russia to halt strikes outside IS areas in Syria". REUTERS. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  10. Nissenbaum, Dion (14 January 2015). "Months of Airstrikes Fail to Slow Islamic State in Syria". ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  11. Dmitry Shlapentokh: Russian Elite Image of Iran: From The Late Soviet Era to The Present, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, September 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 EVANS AND AL-KHALIDI, SULEIMAN , DOMINIC. "Assad says Russian air campaign vital to save Middle East". Reuters. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "МИД России: иранский генерал Сулеймани в Москве не был". Радио Свобода. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  14. Manal. "Syria's ambassador to Russia urges all countries to join Syria and Russia against terrorism". 
  15. Alec Luhn (14 September 2015). "Russia sends artillery and tanks to Syria as part of continued military buildup". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  16. "Russia, Iran, Iraq & Syria setting up 'joint information center' to coordinate anti-ISIS operations". RT English. 
  17. "Russia's Lavrov says Washington declines deeper military talks on Syria". NEWSru. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  18. "US refuses to receive PM Medvedev's delegation to coordinate anti-terrorist actions in Syria". RT English. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  19. ""Это обидно": Лавров сообщил, что США отказались принять делегацию РФ для обсуждения сирийского кризиса". NEWSru. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  20. "Russia carries out first air strikes in Syria". Aljazeera. Retrieved 2015. 
  21. "Iranian troops join ground offensive in Syria". The Globe and Mail. 
  22. Iran boosts support to Syria, telegraph, 21 Feb 2014
  23. Moghtader, Michelle (April 4, 2014). "Iran does not seek indefinite power for Assad, senior diplomat says". Retrieved April 6, 2014. 

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