Insurgents fired two shells at the Russian embassy in the Syrian capital as scores of pro-government supporters gathered outside the compound to thank Moscow for its intervention in Syria. An AP reporter was outside the embassy on Tuesday morning when the first shell slammed into the compound in central Damascus and smoke billowed from inside. As people started running away, another shell hit the area. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties. Opposition fighters in the suburbs of the capital have targeted the embassy in the past but it was not clear if Tuesday's attack targeted the rally.
The pro-Russia stance is a popular one: Last week, a preacher in Damascus' famed Omayyad Mosque praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as 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. In Iraq, where the US-led war against ISIS has stalled, many say they want Russian airstrikes to extend to their country. "Russia does not play games. They are problem solvers, and they do it quietly and efficiently, not like the Americans who prefer to do everything in front of the cameras," a medical student in Baghdad tells the AP. (Read more Syria stories.)