Vladimir Putin now has celebrity status in IRAQ AND SYRIA as leader honoured in cartoons

VLADIMIR Putin is earning widespread praise in the Middle East for Russia's bid to obliterate the Islamic State terror group.

Vladimir Putin portraitAFP•GETTY

Iraqi artist Mohammed Karim Nihaya paints Putin

Images of the Russian President have started appearing on cars and billboards in Syria and Iraq in the past week.

Cartoons of the Russia leader have also been widely shared on social media, portraying him as muscular and fearless, as his popularity soars in the region.

In one, a bare-chested Putin holds ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by the collar and says: "Where do you think you're going? I'll flatten you like flour."

Preachers have also hailed Russia's military intervention as a turning point in the battle to defeat the depraved ISIS mentality.

One, Maamoun Rahmeh, declared Putin a "giant and beloved leader" who has "destroyed the myth of the self-aggrandising America" at a mosque in Damascus last week.

Russia began its air campaign in Syria on September 30 after the US-led coalition struggled to dislodge ISIS militants for over a year.

Russian ships in the Caspian Sea have also fired cruise missiles over Iran and Iraq to strike Raqqa and Aleppo provinces.

Vladimir Putin paintingAFP•GETTY

The Russian leader depicted as a boxer at an exhibition in Moscow

Vladimir PutinAFP•GETTY

Vladimir Putin's popularity has soared in the Middle East in recent weeks

This has provided new hope among Assad's war-weary that their flailing battle against rebel factions and the Islamic State group can still be won.

Dr. Samir Haddad from the central city of Homs said: "The [Russian] intervention has raised the morale of the Syrian army and the Syrian people alike.

"President Putin has a distinguished personality and charisma, and it has become clear that world leaders have gradually started approving, openly or secretly, of this intervention."

His appeal has even extended to Lebanon, where some demonstrators wore T-shirts bearing Putin's face at a protest on Sunday calling for Lebanese presidential elections.

Vladimir PutinGETTY

Putin meets Russian ministers at the end of September