“Russiya” (which means “Russia” in Arabic) residential area is located in the Latakia province just 10 kilometers from the Russian air force base in Khmeimim. Russiya is home to around 1,800 people and the leadership of the small town is vested in the elder Ali Assad Hamoudi.
At first glance, this man doesn’t look like a Syrian at all, as if this was meant to match the name of his village of Russiya. His young age is not at all usual for stereotypical elders. But after conversation, it became clear that this man is indeed experienced and it is no wonder that he holds such a responsible position in the town.
Here’s what Ali Assad Hamoudi said about himself: “For several years, I headed a battalion of Syrian government forces and participated in the liberation of Palmyra from bandits. This, of course, was very difficult because the personnel of my battalion completely changed over these years of war. They were killed, wounded, and some even deserted.
We didn’t even have time to train the new arrivals – they learned on the go in combat. Thank Allah that we were helped by Russian air forces. Otherwise, we would not have been able to overcome this black evil! After being wounded, I was sent for treatment to a hospital in Latakia, where I ended my military career.
I returned to my native Russiya, which at that time was called Raus, and after some time I became the leading elder.”
When asked about the renaming of the town, Ali Assad explained with genuine pride: “This decision was taken by all the residents of Russiya, because we really believe in such a great country as Russia! We have many families who lost their loved ones, but without Russia, we would have lost many more.
We are unfathomably grateful to Russian President Putin for aid in such a difficult time for the Syrian people.”
Ali Assad showed a billboard depicting the two presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, that is set on the busiest street of Russiya.
Upon bidding farewell, Ali Assad confidently said:”There is no doubt in Syrian Russiya that we will defend our country and, together with Russia, cleanse it of these bandits!”