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Syria agrees to let Russia expand Hmeimim airbase

A Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet is prepared for take off at the Russian military base of Hmeimim, located south-east of the city of Latakia in Hmeimim, Latakia Governorate, Syria, on 26 September 2019. [MAXIME POPOV/AFP via Getty Images]
A Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet is prepared for take off at the Russian military base of Hmeimim, located south-east of the city of Latakia in Hmeimim, Latakia Governorate, Syria, on 26 September 2019. [MAXIME POPOV/AFP via Getty Images]

Syrian authorities have agreed to give Russia additional land and coastal waters in order to expand its military airbase at Hmeimim, a Russian government document published on Wednesday showed, Reuters reports.

The agreement, signed by representatives of the two countries on July 21 and which became effective on July 30, concerns an area of land and sea near Syria’s northern Latakia province, where the Russian-controlled Hmeimim airbase is located.

The territory will be used for a “medical treatment and rehabilitation centre” for Russian air force staff, the document said.

The territory, comprising eight hectares of land and a further eight hectares of coastal waters, will be granted to Russia on a temporary basis and at no cost, the document said.

Russia launched airstrikes in Syria in 2015 and began cementing its permanent military presence in 2017, following a deal with the government in Damascus.

Alongside the Hmeimim base, from which Russia launches airstrikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow also controls the Tartus naval facility in Syria, its only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, in use since the days of the Soviet Union.

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