Ihab stocks the shelves of his father's liquor store with vodka to please a growing customer base of Russian soldiers in the coastal city Latakia in Syria, on Dec. 19, 2015. "The Russians are a profitable economic presence, and our sales have gone up more than 20 percent since they don't argue about prices," Ihab told an AFP reporter.
Ihab replaces bottles of the national tipple arak with vodka, which is popular among Russian soldiers.
Customers look at camouflage jackets on sale in "Commandos", a shop that sells military-style clothing and accessories in Latakia on Dec. 19, 2015. The shop’s employee says sales are up and he now has more Russian customers than Syrians.
A customer takes a closer look at a camouflage jacket in "Commandos." A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a Russian flag are hanging in the background.
A woman looks at a customer while he’s holding a camouflage jacket.
A waiter serves customers in the "Moscow Cafe" coffee shop in Latakia, where Russian clients drink for free, on Dec. 18, 2015. Russian soldiers are going into the city for food, drink and entertainment, creating a new customer base with different demands for Latakia's businesses.
Thirty-year-old Syrian Tarek Shaabo, who owns "Moscow Café," holds up a lighter emblazoned with the Russian army's logo on Dec. 18, 2015. Shaabo says he opened his coffee shop in 2012 as a sign of gratitude to Russia for vetoing UN Security Council resolutions on Syria's war.
A general view from outside of the "Moscow Cafe" coffee on Dec. 18, 2015.
Reported by Maher Al Mounes.