Russian parliament approves indefinite deployment of air force in Syria

MOSCOW. The Russian parliament ratified an agreement on Friday to deploy an air group indefinitely to Syria, according to an explanatory note from officials involved in the decision making.

Russian forces launched 34 air cruise missiles on targets in Syria on November 17, 2015, a few months after signing an agreement with Syria for an indefinite deployment there of the Russian air force. The Russian parliament approved the agreement Friday, solidifying the nations’ presence in the war-torn Middle Eastern country. File photo courtesy of Russian Ministry of Defense

The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, approved an agreement with Syrian leaders for the indefinite air force presence about a year after it was initially signed.

The agreement goes into effect immediately and will allow Russia to keep its forces at the Khmeimim air base in the Syrian province of Latakia for as long as it desires.

“Armaments, ammunition, equipment and materials necessary for the fulfillment of appropriate tasks by the Russian air group, for ensuring security and vital functions of its personnel, are delivered to Syria without any charges or tariffs,” the Duma said in an explanatory note after the approval. “Russian air group personnel freely cross the border, and are not subject to any checks by Syrian border control or customs authorities.”

The agreement was signed in August 2015, just before Russia launched its air campaign against the Islamic State in the country at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and was approved with the support of 446 lawmakers in the Duma.

By Stephen Feller