Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on an unannounced visit to Moscow.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Assad “came on a working visit to Moscow” on Tuesday evening and held talks with Putin.
Russia began air strikes in Syria at the end of last month, reports the BBC.
Moscow says it is targeting Islamic State and other militant groups fighting Assad’s government.
Peskov told reporters that the two leaders had discussed the fight against what he called terrorist groups, the continuation of Russian air strikes and Syria’s plans for its troops.
It was the first overseas visit made by Assad since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Syrian state TV reports.
In a transcript of comments by the two leaders, given out by the Kremlin, Putin thanked Assad for coming despite the “dramatic situation” back home.
He said Russia was “offering effective assistance” to the Syrian people who had been “almost alone… resisting, fighting international terrorism for several years”.
“They had suffered serious losses, but recently have been achieving serious results in this fight,” he said.
For his part, Assad thanked Russia for “standing for the unity of Syria and her independence”, saying the rebels would have taken more territory if Moscow had not intervened.
Both men spoke of their hope that terrorism would be defeated, and a political solution could be found to bring an end to the conflict.