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Syrian Civil War

Amid Russian airstrikes, a Putin craze takes hold in Mideast

Amid the ornate walls of Damascus' famed Omayyad Mosque, preacher Maamoun Rahmeh stood before worshippers last week, declaring Russian President Vladimir Putin a "giant and beloved leader" who has "destroyed the myth of the self-aggrandizing America." Posters of Putin are popping up on cars and billboards elsewhere in parts of Syria and Iraq, praising the Russian military intervention in Syria as one that will redress the balance of power in the region. The Russian leader is winning accolades from many in Iraq and Syria, who see Russian airstrikes in Syria as a turning point after more than a year of largely ineffectual efforts by the U.S.-led coalition to dislodge...