Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday for winning a fourtpresidential term, saying it was the result of his “outstanding performance”. Putin, who has backed Assad politically and militarily since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, scored another six years in office on Sunday.
“The Russian people’s exceptional trust in you is a natural outcome of your outstanding national performance,” Assad told Putin on Monday in a congratulatory cable. Russia has been a top ally of Syria for decades, operating a naval base out of the western port of Tartus.
In September 2015, Moscow began carrying out air strikes in support of Assad’s ground troops and has since helped him recapture swathes of territory from rebels and jihadists. “The Russian Federation’s command stood against terrorism in word and in deed, and the Syrian army is grateful for your contribution to eliminating terrorist forces across most Syrian territory,” Assad said on Monday.
Putin visited Syria in December and announced a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from the war-torn country. The newly reelected leader on Monday said Russia would cut its military spending.