Russian clients drink for free at the “Moscow Cafe” in Latakia.
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Ihab's storefront is one of many shops and restaurants hoping to attract the Russian soldiers who have arrived in Latakia since Moscow began a military intervention in Syria in late September.Many Syrian military officers have trained in Russia, and it is not uncommon to find Syrians married to Russians or who speak the language.Elsewhere in Latakia, Mohammad is arranging a display of camouflage jackets in "Commandos," a shop that sells military-style clothing and accessories.The 26-year-old employee says sales are up and he now has more Russian customers than Syrians.Pocket-sized portraits of Assad – stacked next to boxes of combat boots under a Russian flag on the wall – are in particularly "high demand by Russian soldiers," he says.Haidar, 29, is so enthusiastic about the Russian presence that he has named the restaurant he opened last month "Russia".Another coffee shop nearby offers Russians drinks at half price, but at Moscow Cafe they are free.
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