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Putin makes surprise visit to Syria, holds talks with Assad

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.”

Putin last visited Syria in 2017 when he inspected Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in the western Latakia Province.

President Putin offered congratulations to the Russian forces operating in Syria on occasion of Christmas.

President al-Assad also congratulated the Russian officers and soldiers on occasion of Christmas, expressing the appreciation of himself and the Syrian people for the sacrifices made by the Russian forces alongside their counterparts in the Syrian Arab Army.

Accompanied by President al-Assad, President Putin toured Damascus city, visiting the Grand Umayyad Mosque and the shrine of St. John the Baptist located in it, writing an entry in the record of visitors.