US commander in Mideast concerned of ‘burgeoning’ Iran-Russia ties

The US air force commander in the Middle East has warned of “burgeoning” military relations between Iran and Russia, saying shared drone technology was a particular concern.

“Modified Iranian drones used by Moscow in its war in Ukraine could feed back to Iran, which in turn may employ them in its campaign to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,” Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich told a briefing in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The US and its allies have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia to use them in the Ukraine war. Both Tehran and Moscow have rejected the allegation.

“I think there’s a risk that … as Russia accepts the drones from Iran, as it modifies those weapons, that some of that technology gets shared back with Iran [and] gives them additional capabilities,” Grynkewich, commander of the US Ninth Air Force, told reporters.

“I see the implications of that relationship playing out a little bit in Syria.”

Heading a high-ranking military delegation, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Tehran on Tuesday upon an official invitation by the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri.

Tehran and Moscow have strengthened their defense partnership in recent years, and are now mulling a long-term defense cooperation agreement.

Tehran stressed the two countries will hold joint military exercises in the coming February.

Despite facing severe Western sanctions, Iran and Russia, two strong allies, have significantly strengthened their relationship in multiple domains, such as military and defense, over the past few years.

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