News Briefs – August 24, 2016


Iran parliament pushes back on military for Russian base use

Iran’s parliament has pushed back against the military dismissing its oversight following Russia using an Iranian air base to launch airstrikes on Syria.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani brought up the topic Aug. 23 as lawmakers gathered in Tehran, a day after Iranian officials announced Russia’s use of the Shahid Nojeh Air Base has stopped for the time being.
The state-run IRNA news agency quotes Larijani as criticizing Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan for not “speaking properly” to lawmakers’ concerns. Dehghan over the weekend said Russia’s use of the air base was not their concern.
Larijani said Dehghan “should have observed the ethics of governing.”
The parliamentary response is part of the larger give-and-take between civilians and the country’s powerful security services since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. AP

Pentagon: Exclusion zone in Syria is not a ‘no fly zone’

A Pentagon spokesman says the U.S. has told Syria that its air force must not fly in areas where American military advisers are working with Kurdish and Arab forces fighting the Islamic State group. But he said this does not amount to a “no fly zone.”
Reporters on Aug. 22 pushed press secretary Peter Cook to explain the distinction.
Cook says the Syrians have been warned repeatedly that the U.S. will defend its forces on the ground, and that their warplanes should not fly in areas near U.S. troops. Twice last week, Syria aircraft flew in a part of northeastern Syria where U.S. forces are advising local anti-IS forces, prompting U.S. warnings.
Cook says the warnings were communicated to the Syrians through the Russian military. AP

Lithuania in $437 million military vehicle deal with Germany

Lithuania says it has signed a contract to purchase dozens of German military vehicles worth $437 million, in the Baltic country’s largest weaponry purchase to date.
The Lithuanian Defense Ministry says the deal was signed Aug. 22 with Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles for 88 armoured Boxer cars.
The agreement comes amid growing tensions over neighboring Russia’s increased military presence in the Baltic Sea region.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Juzas Olekas said at the signing ceremony that the contract “is a signal that Lithuania takes care of its security, and investments into it seriously.”
Russia’s actions in Ukraine and military activity in the Baltic region caused the former Soviet republic to reintroduce compulsory military service last year and sharply increase defense spending. AP

China stages live-firing drills in Tonkin Gulf amid tensions

China’s coast guard launched live-firing exercises in the Tonkin Gulf Aug. 22, the latest in a series of military drills that come amid renewed tensions among disputants to territory in the South China Sea.
The Maritime Safety Administration said ships and boats were barred from the area between its southern island province of Hainan and the northern coast of Vietnam Aug. 22-24.
China’s navy and air force have held a series of drills in surrounding waters since an international arbitration panel issued a ruling last month invalidating China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. China angrily rejected the ruling and said it would begin flying regular air patrols over the strategic waterway while continuing to develop airstrips, harbors and other infrastructure of military value on man-made islands it controls in the disputed Spratly group.
On Aug. 21, China said its planes and ships held war games in the Sea of Japan last week, during which it deployed its latest-generation frigate.
Beijing didn’t say who the latest military drills were targeting or why the Sea of Japan was chosen as the location. However, China has grown increasingly assertive over its claim to a chain of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan, recently dispatching more than a dozen coast guard vessels to the area as Chinese fishing vessels swarmed the surrounding waters.
China also plans joint naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea next month in a move criticized by the U.S. as harming regional stability. AP