Syria's Assad congratulates Putin on 'outstanding' election victory
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated his Russian counterpart and key ally Vladmir Putin on Monday for winning a fourth presidential term.
Putin - who is already Russia's longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin - is now set to rule until at least 2024 after receiving 76.67 percent of the vote.
"The Russian people's exceptional trust in you is a natural outcome of your outstanding national performance," Assad told Putin on Monday in a congratulatory cable.
Russia has been a top ally of the Assad regime for decades, operating a naval base out of the western port of Tartous.
In 2015, Moscow began carrying out airstrikes in support of Assad's group troops and has since helped him recapture large swathes of territory from opposition rebels.
"The Russian Federation's command stood against terrorism in word and in deed, and the Syrian army is grateful for your contribution to eliminating terrorist forces across most Syrian territory," Assad said on Monday.
Putin visited Syria in December and announced a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from the war-torn country.
The newly re-elected leader on Monday said Russia would cut its military spending.