Over the past eight months, Russia has increasingly seized the initiative in charting the political and military course of events in Syria.
A further Russian parliamentary visit to Syria in November 2016 resulted in Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem reportedly offering Russia firms priority in rebuilding Syria.
Leading Russia’s reconstruction efforts in Syria is a seemingly unusual actor: the restive North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.
Syrian government forces have advanced against the Islamic State in recent weeks, looking to secure outlying desert areas and relieve the four-year siege imposed on the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
While there is no hard evidence of Russian advisors in this push, numerous Russian reporters are embedded alongside regime forces, stationed on the frontlines in the recently-captured town of Sukhna.
At the same time, Russia has loudly trumpeted the rebuilding of several prominent mosques in Syria as flagship projects aimed at demonstrating its benevolent intentions.