Putin tells Assad he should invite Trump to Damascus

Putin and Assad
Putin and Assad hold a meeting in Damascus, Jan. 7. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

During his surprise visit to Syria last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, to invite President Trump to Damascus, according to a video of a short conversation between the two leaders aired Sunday on Russia-1 television channel.

What's happening: The video shows the leaders speaking to each other during a visit to the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus. Assad tells Putin about the apostle Paul who became a Christian at the gate of Damascus and adds jokingly: "If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too."

Why Qasem Soleimani mattered

Photo: Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, was one of the Iranian regime's most powerful figures — and the mastermind of its regional ambitions.

Why he mattered: As the leader of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Soleimani was as revered by Iran's proxies and supporters across the region as he was reviled by Iran's foes, who considered him the mastermind of state-sponsored terrorism.