Iran allowed the Russian air force to use its base at Hamedan (western Iran) for air strikes in Syria. A high ranking commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed Iran had established a "Shi'ite liberation army" operating in Syria, Iraq and Yemen under the command of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC's Qods Force. He said the objective of the "liberation army" was to ensure that Israel would not exist within 23 years. Osama Hamdan, responsible for Hamas' international relations, claimed the relations between Iran and Hamas had improved. He denied a report in a Saudi Arabian-sponsored newspaper that Tehran had conditioned Iran's continued financial support of Hamas on a pledge of loyalty to Iran.