The Guardian

The Syrian airbase at the heart of a potential Israel-Iran war

Photos from T-4 base indicate full-scale conflict between two of region’s most formidable enemies could be edging closer
A satellite image of T-4, the largest airbase in Syria, where Iranian forces are believed to have been attacked twice by Israel’s military this year. Photograph: DigitalGlobe/European Space Imaging

Isolated in the barren sands of central Syria and measuring five miles across in some areas is the country’s largest airbase. A fortress surrounded by hundreds of miles of desert, T-4 consists of dozens of hardened aircraft shelters, hiding Russian fighter jets and supersonic Sukhoi bombers.

Over seven years of conflict its runway has been blackened by the rubber tyres of jets returning from sorties in the devastating war between the forces of Bashar al-Assad and the rebels who have failed to overthrow him.

T-4’s remote location and Soviet-era fortifications have shielded it from much of the violence that has laid waste to Syria, though it bears the scars of a 2016 Islamic state artillery attack that obliterated four combat helicopters.

Today, the base is the

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