Middle East | World

Vladimir Putin claims he’s helping Jews in Syria — but there may not be any

(JTA) — Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that his country is aiding the Jews of Syria.

Except it’s unclear whether any Jews actually remain in Syria after more than eight years of civil war.

“We also help representatives of Judaism, we help Jews also in the restoration of their shrines in Syria, and we are in fact cooperating with them on an ongoing basis,” he said at a recent news conference in Budapest, according to a Kremlin news release.

Syria was home to some 100,000 Jews at the turn of the 20th century, but tens of thousands fled following the establishment of the State of Israel. A handful were left in the country at the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, but it’s unclear whether any of them are still there, according to The Times of Israel.