Syria has signed an agreement with Iran allowing it to station its jets in the Islamic republic to protect them from possible attacks, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
According to the report, which cites German intelligence sources, the deal was signed in November 2012, and Syria has already transferred aircraft to Iran.
In August, the U.S. threatened to launch a military strike against Syria in response to the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that killed more than a thousand Syrians near Damascus. The U.S. threat soon dissipated, but Syrian President Bashar Assad would likely prefer to take precautions to protect his air force, as it is by far his greatest military advantage over the rebels waging the civil war against his army.
Syria does not share a border with Iran. The shortest route between the two countries is across northern Iraq -- and that is the most likely path Syria’s fleeing jets would take.
On Sunday, Der Spiegel issued excerpts from an interview with Assad in which the Syrian president conceded that he had "made mistakes," but insisted that all sides were to blame.