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Russian tactical group seen at Hmeymim aerodrome in Syria

'They Came to Defend Us': Syrian Businesses Welcome Russian Troops

© Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
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While Western nations criticize Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, every day Syrians are praising Moscow for pushing back against terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as IS/the Islamic State. Local businesses are all too happy to oblige their new Russian friends.

Since September 30, the Russian Defense Ministry has launched a devastating air campaign against Daesh targets in Syria. Operating out of an air base in Latakia, Russian bombers have carried out over 5,000 sorties.

But the presence of the Russian military is good for more than just security; it’s also helping the country economically, and local shops are more than happy to cater to the soldiers who have kept their country safe.

"In the past the demand was more for whisky and arak, but with the Russians arriving in Syria, it’s changed to vodka," Ihab, a local store owner, told Al Arabiya News. "So I put these bottles in front so they can grab them first."

Ihab has even begun to learn Russian so that he can communicate with the soldiers, whom he calls his "new friends."

A number of businesses in Latakia province are benefiting from the presence of Russian troops, who frequently journey into town for entertainment and refreshments.

"The Russians are a profitable economic presence, and our sales have gone up more than 20 percent since they don’t argue about prices," Ihab said.

Mohammad, an employee at an area clothing store, said that most of his customers are Russian. He has hung a Russian flag inside the shop and begun learning the language.

"They’ve become our friends," he told Al Arabiya. "They pass by to say hello or they wave at me from afar as they pass by the place."

Another young man, Haidar, has opened a brand new restaurant. Its name? “Russia,” and he is currently working to find a chef who can cater to the tastes of his favorite patrons.

"I’ve loved Russia and Russians since my childhood, and now is the time to express my love for them through my restaurant," he said. "The Russians have revived both the nightlife and daytime businesses."

While the Russian soldiers are certainly good for business, some shops are even offering troops drinks at half the price – or no price at all.

"Since then, I swore to myself I would never let a Russian customer pay," Tarek Shaabo, owner of the Moscow Café, said of Russia’s veto of UN resolutions on Syria’s war. "They came to defend us. The least I can do is host them in my small café."

"Tell Abu Ali Putin he’s got a place to stay in Latakia," Shaabo said. "Moscow Café is his home."

Related:
Russia Was Forced to 'Draw a Line in Syria Against Washington's Aggression'
Russia to Allocate $2Mln to UN Fund on Syria Humanitarian Aid in 2015
Russia’s Role in Syria Settlement Talks ‘Helpful, Critical’ - State Dept
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  • Bob Hoferer
    A really GOOD article. I am sure MANY more feel the same way.
  • allperils
    It would be nice if you guys could post some pics of the places, I'm curious.
  • anne00marie
    What a lovely story. Syria and the people neglected for so long and now getting their pride back. Good luck.
  • cast235
    Putin asked " why the bases?".. See that's part of it. Accidents WILL happen. But Russia could seek immunities. this will also help in other ways. Culture etc.
    Plus it will maintain order. NATO won't stop there as desperation and fears are at hand. Troika ready to sell all assets of E.U for nothing. And debt ceilings getting full of MUD from the fans.
    E.U will be super desperate soon, as even IMF is removing barriers to grant loans, since the income is smaller than the waste.
    Desperate measures will begin soon, not only in Ukraine. Ukraine DREAMING of E.U and is just full of loans. The idea is that RF would reject it because of MASSIVE loans.
    Soo new reforms will be needed, AKA AUSTERITY. U.K is desperate, with the country protesting. U.S is also under MASSIVE austerity. with everything going up, except the poor and mid income people dissapearing into tents, refuge and welfare.
    families work and need massive welfare. Pensioners 4 yrs or more with no raises. Like in KENYA. Americans are suppose to live like African tribes. on new hopeful president offer relief. Just more spending and of course take from the poor.
    BIG bases with 3,500 of each brand are awesome. One base house them ALL. Navy and Marine get the ocean and beaches. Aerospace the mid. reg army the front .. The rest gets in there too. And intel to get terrorists. One part should be reserves so they go practice . Build one or more by every continent. They also can house people to help Russians at airports. And to arrest Americans the same way Russians are arrested. Let's see if Ban Ki Moon dare's challenge Russian Arrests.
  • rogertidy
    A heart-warming article!
  • Ann
    "Abu Ali Putin" LOL, that's cool.
  • Ann in reply tocast235(Show commentHide comment)
    cast235, "U.S is also under MASSIVE austerity. with everything going up, except the poor and mid income people dissapearing into tents, refuge and welfare" Western media refuses to report that fact, but that makes it no less real for the people whom lost their homes and everything they had.

    The U.S. government does NOT represent the will of the American people - please remember that everyone.
  • dennismic
    This is all nice and welcoming to read but Russian troops must keep an extra eye open for people who do not welcome their presents in Syria so moving out of their safety of the base can be an easy target.
  • Robert
    Is this an invitation for President Putin to expand the Russian troops inside Syria, or what? (^_^)
  • ariavd
    Very good. They allready have people behind them. Have anybody seen the similarity of the flag on the soldiers arm ,and the flag behind obama in his speach yesterday??
  • Well, alcohol and war should not mix, especially if one is a pilot.
  • podius4in reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9, you are absolutely correct sixpack! multiple states are talking secession from the Federal Gov.
  • wconellin reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9, "The U.S. government does NOT represent the will of the American people - please remember that everyone.

    X2 !!
  • Ivan Zadorozhny
    Not all in Western nations criticize Russia, many, perhaps a majority, approve of Russian actions despite MSM brainwashing.
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