In recent comments, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem confirmed “deep coordination” between Iran and Russia on military operations in Syria, and US officials say that months of “high-level” talks between Russian and Iranian brass is a “complicating” matter for them.
It’s no secret that both Iran and Russia are major allies of the Syrian government, and have both been advising them on the ongoing civil war, but as both nations have looked to step up their support in the face of recent Syrian losses to ISIS, they seem to be coordinating more closely on the matter.
The two nations haven’t really had conflicting operations so far, by all indications. Iran’s interests in Syria center on Damascus and the area along the Lebanon border, an important Shi’ite corridor, while Russia’s interests are primarily coastal, centering on the Tartus naval base.
But as Syria’s territory shrinks in the face of offensives by ISIS and al-Qaeda, there’s less and less territory to help Syria defend, and those interests must inevitably overlap. Coordination among nations with military operations in close proximity aren’t unusual, and indeed the more unusual part is that the US, itself nominally fighting against the same Islamists as Russia and Iran, has so far spurned coordination with either of them, or Syria itself, on the question of Syria.