Putin hosts Assad, expected to focus on rebuilding Syria

MOSCOW (HRNW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hosted Syrian leader Bashar Assad in the Kremlin for talks expected to focus on rebuilding Syria after a devastating civil war and mending Damascus’ ties with Turkey.

Welcoming Assad at the start of the meeting that comes on the anniversary of Syria’s 12-year uprising-turned-civil war, Putin emphasized the Russian military’s “decisive contribution” to stabilizing the country.

Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, teaming up with Iran to allow Assad’s government to fight back armed opposition groups and reclaim control over most of the country. While Russia has concentrated the bulk of its military resources in Ukraine, Moscow has maintained its military foothold in Syria and kept warplanes and troops at its bases there.

Assad thanked Putin for backing Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, noting that the Kremlin’s support has remained strong despite the fighting in Ukraine.

“Even though Russia now is also conducting the special operation, its position has remained unchanged,” Assad said, using the Kremlin’s “special military operation” term for the Russian action in Ukraine.