Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare visit to Syria on Tuesday where he held talks with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, as reported by Syrian media. This also marks his first trip in the war-hit country since his last visit to the Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province in 2017.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin press secretary said that, in his conversation with Assad, the Russian President noted that they can now say that a huge distance has been travelled towards statehood and country's territorial integrity. Peskov also revealed that Putin visited the Russian Command post in Damascus and met President Assad there. The two leaders then were presented with military reports on the situation in different regions of Syria.
Iranian and Russian forces helped Assad win back nearly all the territory that he had lost to the rebel forces in the civil war that continued for nine years. The visit also comes amid the heightened tension in the middle east. Earlier on Wednesday, Iran launched at least ten ballistic missiles against two military bases which stationed US forces in Iraq. The attack came as a vengeance to the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike by the US. US officials at Washington and Tehran commented that this was the first act of retaliation vowed by Iran as revenge for the US killing of a top Iranian general.
Iran's frontman in Syria since 2011, Soleimani helped turn the tide in the civil war, intervening to save Assad as armed rebels reached the capital, Damascus, and seized several key cities. He welded together Shiite militias from across the region to back Syria's military and waged a series of sieges that captured back territory, wreaked heavy bloodshed and destruction and prevented the collapse of Assad's state. More than 400,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war and 11 million have been displaced from their homes, including 5 million who are refugees outside the country.