Two days after the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, secretly visited Russia to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin, the White House has strongly condemned Russia for putting on a “red carpet welcome”.
The Syrian leader’s trip on Tuesday came three weeks after Russia began air strikes in Syria against Islamic State militants and other forces.
It was Mr Assad’s first overseas trip since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011.
The conflict has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.
During his visit, Mr Assad said that Russia’s involvement had stopped the spread of “terrorism” becoming “more widespread and harmful”.
For his part, Mr Putin said the Syrian people had been “almost alone; resisting, fighting international terrorism for several years”.
The visit was not announced until Wednesday after Mr Assad had returned to Damascus.