Assad makes surprise visit to Moscow for talks with Putin

The Kremlin said Assad thanked Russia for the assistance.

“I want to express our tremendous gratitude to the Russian leadership and people for the help they are providing Syria,” Assad said, according to the Kremlin. “Thank you for supporting Syria’s unity and independence.”

Were it not for Russian actions, Assad said, events in Syria would have taken “an even more tragic turn,” and terrorism in the region would have made even greater gains.

Putin, too, cast Russian actions as a fight against terrorism.

“The Syrian people have been practically alone in putting up resistance and fighting these international terrorists for several years now,” Putin said.