• In this Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 photo provided on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin give an interview focused on Russia's action in Syria, to Russian TV Rossya-1 channel in Sochi, Russia. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    Amid Russian airstrikes, a Putin craze takes hold in Mideast

    BEIRUT (AP) — Amid the ornate walls of Damascus’ famed Omayyad Mosque, preacher Maamoun Rahmeh stood before worshippers last week, declaring Russian President Vladimir Putin a “giant and beloved leader” who has “destroyed the myth of the self-aggrandizing America.”

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks during a press conference held with Britain's Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon, at Lancaster house in London, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

    US weighing Russian response on Syria flight safety

    ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — Russian leaders have responded to a proposed draft of safety guidelines for military aircraft flying missions in the increasingly crowded skies over Syria, the Pentagon said Friday.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in an ice hockey match between former NHL stars and officials at the Shayba Arena in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin spent his 63rd birthday on the ice, playing hockey with NHL stars against Russian officials and tycoons. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    Putin spends his birthday playing hockey with NHL stars

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin spent his 63rd birthday on the ice Wednesday, playing hockey with NHL stars against Russian officials and tycoons.

  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the presidential residence in the Russian Black Sea Resort of Sochi, Russia. A meeting in August between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top general and commander of the Quds Force, in Moscow lasted some three hours. Soleimani's one mission was to sell Putin on the idea that Russian airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria was imperative. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

    Iran lobbied for Russian campaign in Syria , officials say

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran played an integral role leading up to Russia’s move to launch its air campaign in Syria and play a stronger role in Iraq, with one of Tehran’s most powerful generals meeting for three hours with President Vladimir Putin to push for intervention, Iraqi government officials tell The Associated Press.

  • In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

    Syrian troops launch ground offensive in central regions

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Russian warships in the Caspian Sea fired cruise missiles Wednesday as Syrian government troops launched a ground offensive in central Syria in the first major combined air-and-ground assault since Moscow began its military campaign in the country last week.

  • In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 photo released by the Rased News Network, a Facebook account affiliated with Islamic State militants, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, people gather at the site of an airstrike in Al-Bab on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said warplanes believed to be Russian have targeted the northern town of Al-Bab that is a stronghold of the Islamic State group. The Arabic at the bottom reads, "The destruction that was caused by airstrikes of the Crusader-Alawite coalition on the town of Al-Bab." (Rased News Network via AP)

    Syrian rebels face a new reality amid Russian air campaign

    BEIRUT (AP) — The U.S.-backed rebel group Tajammu Alezzah has been fighting the Syrian military outside the city of Hama for months, but a new player has joined the fray: Russian warplanes, which have repeatedly hit their front-line positions, followed by airstrikes from government planes.