Russia says it can now operate nuclear bombers from Syrian air base

A Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers fly back to his base after a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade outside Moscow on May 4, 2020. (YURI KADOBNOV / AFP)

MOSCOW – Russia said on Tuesday it had the ability for the first time to operate long-range strategic nuclear-capable bombers from its air base in Syria, expanding its capabilities and allowing such planes to train in new regions.

Russia operates the Hmeymim base on Syria's Mediterranean coast, from which it has launched air strikes in the past in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that three Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers had flown to Hmeymim.

It said runways at the base had been made longer and one of them upgraded allowing Russia to operate aircrafts of all types from the base.

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The three newly arrived bombers would hold training exercises in new geographical areas over the Mediterranean Sea, the defense ministry said, before returning to their permanent airfields in Russia.