Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea, expressing gratitude for Moscow's help in a protracted civil war that has gone in favor of its government.
The Assad journey marks Syria's second known outing since the nation was shaken by a 2011 uprising sponsored by the West, Turkey and the Arab Gulf states. Support to the allies Russia and Iran played a crucial role in the Syrian army, reversing the conquests of the rebels and jihadists, and Putin congratulated his Syrian counterpart for "the significant success of the Syrian government's army in the fight against terrorist groups" , which he said should be followed by "a complete political process".
Assad, in turn, congratulated Putin on his re-election in March and reported "many positive changes" in Syria, including the reduction of territory controlled by the insurgents and the return of "hundreds of thousands of Syrians" displaced by the conflict.
"Stability is improving, and all this opens the door to the political process that we started some time ago." I have always said, and now I repeat once again, that we always enthusiastically support the political process, which must go hand in hand with the fight against terrorism, "said Assad.