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Iran will send hundreds of weapons-capable drones to Russia to aid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to US officials, underscoring a deepening alliance that will be punctuated next week when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Tehran, the Guardian reported Tuesday.
US intelligence officials also said Iran is preparing to train Russian troops to use these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) “as soon as early July.” Officials added that these drones have been used by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi Arabia.
Drones have played a significant role in the Ukraine conflict, with both Russian and Ukrainian forces using them for strikes and reconnaissance missions.
Ukraine’s military has had remarkable success using Turkish-made Bayraktar armed combat UAVs, while the United States and other allies have provided Kyiv with a variety of smaller drones.
The announcement comes as Putin prepares to hold talks with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts as part of the so-called “Astana peace process” to end more than 11 years of conflict in Syria, Al Jazeera noted.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian state media also reported that Putin would visit Tehran next week to discuss deepening economic ties.
Iran has continuously expressed readiness to sign long-term economic deals with Russian businesses, which have been hit hard by Western sanctions following the start of the Ukrainian war in February.