PHOTOS, VIDEO: Humiliating moment Assad is stopped from following Putin by Russian soldiers on his own soil
This is the humiliating moment Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was stopped from following Vladimir Putin by Russian soldiers on his own soil when the pair staged a 'victory' announcement.
The Russian President yesterday declared that his alliance with Assad had been a success and that Moscow will start to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.
But on the same day, footage shows the Syrian strongman being humbled on his own turf - when a Kremlin serviceman ordered him to wait while Putin walked off in front of him.
The clip shows a man in military clothing placing his hand on Assad's arm and urging him to stop walking as Putin advanced with his own officials.
Assad turns to his right and gestures with his hand - but stays still while his ally walks off in front of him.
Speaking during a visit to a military airbase near Latakia, northeast Syria, Putin yesterday announced that he had ordered a pullout of 'a significant part' of Russian forces.
Russia first intervened in the conflict in 2015, staging air strikes in support of its ally Damascus targeting both ISIS and other jihadists as well as rebels fighting government troops.
'I order the defence minister and the chief of general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases,' Putin said in a televised speech as he visited Russia's Hemeimeem airbase in Syria.
'I have taken a decision: a significant part of the Russian troop contingent located in Syria is returning home to Russia.’
Putin said the troops had helped the Syrian army crush the 'most battle-ready group of international terrorists,' apparently referring to ISIS.
He added that 'if the terrorists again raise their heads, we will deal such blows to them they have never seen.'
The Russian leader also hailed the valor of his troops, saying 'You have shown the best qualities of a Russian soldier.’
'Our homeland thanks you, my friends,' Putin said, 'Have a safe trip. I thank you for your service.'
After seeing troops march, Putin drove up to the Russian warplanes parked on the runway and talked to the pilots, who said they will fly back home later in the day.
Putin and Assad were pictured smiling and shaking hands, before Putin left for Egypt where he arrived later on Monday.
Putin reportedly told Assad he would discuss the prospects for a peace settlement with the leaders of Egypt and Turkey later Monday.
'I hope that together with Turkey and Iran we will succeed in restoring peaceful life and launch a political process to settle the situation in Syria,' Putin said.
Syrian TV said Assad thanked Putin for his troops' 'effective contribution' to the fight against terrorism in Syria, which he said the Syrian people 'will never forget.’
'Syria has been saved as a sovereign, independent state, refugees are coming home and conditions have been created for a political settlement under the United Nations' auspices,' Putin said.
A fresh round of Syrian peace talks is scheduled for next week in Astana, Kazakhstan said Monday, as part of a Moscow-led push to end the six-year conflict.
The two-day talks in Astana will begin on December 21 and will focus on freeing prisoners, the delivery of humanitarian aid, the functioning of de-escalation zones and other issues, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the Russian military commander in Syria, said the military will pull out 23 warplanes, two helicopter gunships, special forces units, military police and field engineers.
Surovikin said the remaining forces will be sufficient to 'successfully fulfill the tasks' to stabilize the situation in Syria. He did not say how many troops and weapons would stay behind.
Syria has allowed Russia to use Hemeimeem air base indefinitely without cost. Moscow also has a deal with Syria to use the Tartus base for 49 years, which could be extended if both parties agree.
The Russian military plans to modernize the air base and expand its runways to allow it to host more warplanes. It also intends to expand the Tartus facility significantly to make it a full-scale naval base capable of hosting warships, including cruiser-sized vessels.
It also follows the Russian announcement last week that the Syrian army under the Russian air cover routed the Islamic State in eastern Syria and fully restored control over the border with Iraq.
Putin said last month that efforts to end the war were entering a 'new stage' as the focus shifted from military intervention to political reform.
Russia launched its air campaign in Syria at the end of September 2015 when Assad's government was teetering on the brink of collapse and quickly changed the course of the conflict in its favor.
The size of the Russian deployment in Syria is not known but independent Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer estimates that up to 10,000 troops and private contractors could have taken part in the conflict.
More than 340,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against Assad's rule that sparked a brutal crackdown.