Syrian government thanks Russia for help capturing key town

Pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad hang on nearly every building in the town of Salma, which government troops captured last week in one of their most significant advances since Russia intervened militarily on their side.

The Syrian government offensive has given Assad a stronger hand going into peace talks planned for next week in Switzerland.

The Russian military on Friday took Moscow-based reporters to see the town in Latakia province, which had been out of government control for more than three years.

Latakia Governor Ibrahim Khder al-Saalem said government forces were able to capture the city "thanks to the support of the friendly Russian aviation."

Since Russia launched its bombing campaign on Sept. 30, its warplanes have flown nearly 6,000 missions in support of the Syrian government troops.