Syria agrees to let Russia expand its Hmeimim air base
Syrian authorities have agreed to give Russia additional land and coastal waters in order to expand its military air base at Hmeimim, a Russian government document published on Wednesday showed.
The agreement, signed by representatives of the two countries on 21 July and effective since 30 July, concerns an area of land and sea near Syria's northern Latakia province, where the Russian-controlled Hmeimim air base 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, Reuters reported.
Alongside the Hmeimim base, from which Russia launches air strikes 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.
Russia commenced its bombing campaign in Syria in 2015 and began cementing its permanent military presence in 2017, following a deal with the government in Damascus.
Moscow's support has been crucial in allowing Assad to remain in power and ultimately regain control of much of the country following the outbreak of Syria's civil war in 2011.