Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Syria on Tuesday to meet with President Bashar al-Assad amid escalating tensions between Iran, a key Syrian ally, and the U.S. after the killing of a top Iranian general in an American airstrike.
Putin’s second-ever trip to the war-torn country, where his troops have been fighting alongside Syrian government forces since 2015, was reported by Syrian state media and a Kremlin spokesman.
Syrian state news agency SANA gave scant details about Putin's visit, only saying that he met with Assad in a Russian military base in the capital of Damascus.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders were presented with military reports on the situation in different regions of Syria.
In his conversation with Assad, Putin said that “a huge distance has been covered in terms of restoring Syria’s statehood and territorial integrity,” Peskov said.
Russia has been a main backer of Assad and has tipped the balance of power in his favor over the past four years, with government forces now in control in most of the country.
Syria's conflict began in March 2011 and has left more than 400,000 people dead.
Following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last week, some analysts have speculated that his death will empower Russia in the region, although they've observed a stronger Assad-led tilt toward Tehran over Moscow.
“Bashar al-Assad is closer to the Iranian influence and the Iranian axis than the Russians within the Syrian regime,” Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat and founder of the Middle East-focused activism organization, People Demand Change, previously told Fox News. “But, the Assad regime is split, as never before, into two very distinct wings between pro-Iran and pro-Russia.”
Meanwhile, Putin is also set to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she travels to Moscow on Saturday to discuss the growing crisis in the Middle East, a spokesman for the chancellor said Monday.
Fox News' Hollie McKay and The Associated Press contributed to this report.