Putin marks surprise in Syria, meets Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a surprise visit to Syria, holding talks with his counterpart, Bashar Assad, at the Russian military command center.

Putin “rode through the streets of Damascus” on his way to the command center, where he headed after landing at the city’s airport, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

The Russian president met with Assad there as the two leaders listened to reports by military officials on the conditions on the ground in various regions of the country. Russia has been assisting Syria in the fight against terrorists since 2014.

During their meeting, Putin told Assad that “the signs of peaceful life are visible to the naked eye on the streets of Damascus,” Peskov said.

The Russian president also said that it can now safely be said that “a huge distance has been passed on the way to restoring Syria’s statehood and territorial integrity.”

Revolutionary Guard Gen Qassem Soleimani’s death has sparked calls across Iran for revenge against America.

US troops are based in eastern Syria, making the country a potential site of conflict with Iran.

Russia deployed its air force to Syria in 2015, decisively turning the against rebels who were battling to topple Assad in the country’s civil war.

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