ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (Reuters) - A train packed with war trophies from Syria including a tank and carriages of weapons arrived to loud fanfare at a southern Russian city on Wednesday, part of a nationwide tour organized by the military to whip up patriotic sentiment.
The tour, launched in Moscow at the weekend, aims to show off hardware captured by the Russian military during its Syrian campaigns in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The collection will be displayed in dozens of cities across Russia.
Thousands of army cadets, men, women and children gathered in Rostov-on-Don on Wednesday to glimpse the artifacts.
Exhibits included armored personnel carriers, automatic rifles, pistols and drones that the ministry said Russia had captured from militants during joint operations with Syrian government forces.
Soldiers recounted to visitors how the hardware had been captured.
Russia launched its military intervention in Syria in 2015, turning the tide of the war in Assad’s favor.
Some Russians appeared nonplussed about the train and wrote on social media that the money for the tour could have been better spent on infrastructure or social welfare.
“...there’s no money to estimate the cost of renovating hospitals, let alone to carry out the renovations themselves. But at least residents can rejoice in the special defense ministry train with trophies from Syria,” a Twitter user called Vitaly C. wrote.
Reporting by Reuters pictures; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Gareth Jones