Alwaght- Russian President Vladimir Putin in an unannounced visit to Syria met his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during in Damascus on Tuesday.
The surprising visit was Putin's first to Damascus and second to Syria, since the start of the nearly nine-year foreign-backed war, Al Jazeera reported.
The two leaders listened to a military presentation by the commander of Russian forces in Syria, the Syrian presidency said in a statement along with a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.
Putin extended his greetings to Russian forces for Orthodox Christmas which is celebrated on January 7.
He also said enormous progress had been made in the Syrian conflict, Russian news agencies reported.
"In his conversation with Assad, Putin noted that we can now say with confidence that a huge distance has been travelled towards restoring Syrian statehood and the country's territorial integrity," the agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
Peskov told Interfax, RIA Novosti and TASS that Putin met al-Assad at a command post for Russian forces in Syria, driving through Damascus on the way.
"Putin also noted that on the streets of Damascus, the signs of how peace has been restored can be seen with the naked eye," according to Peskov.
He said the two men heard military reports on the situation in various parts of Syria, where Russia's armed forces intervened in 2015 in support of al-Assad.
"The Syrian president expressed appreciation for the help of Russia and the Russian military in the fight against terrorism and the restoration of peaceful life in Syria," Peskov said.
Putin was due to visit several more sites, Peskov said, without providing further details.
The Russian leader visited Syria in December 2017 but had not been to the capital, only stopping at the Russian base of Hmeimim on the Mediterranean coast.