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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Syria’s President Bashar Assad welcomed a group of Russian politicians to Damascus on Sunday, following airstrikes carried out by the US, Britain and France the previous day.

Assad hosted a meeting with the politicians, and is reported by state media to have told his visitors that the US, Britain and France had waged a campaign of “lies and misinformation” against Russia and Syria.

The airstrikes, which hit several sites, were a direct response to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma on April 7.

The alleged gas attack killed more than 40 people, according to opposition activists and rescuers.

Assad and Russia deny using chemical weapons.

The UN Security Council has been paralysed in dealing with the seven-year Syrian conflict and the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member, is a close ally of Assad.

Meantime, President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his use of the term “mission accomplished” to describe Friday night’s missile strike in Syria.

 

On Saturday, Trump celebrated the success of the strike on three targets in Syria in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians.

“A perfectly executed strike last night,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”

Republican President George W. Bush famously stood in front of a banner emblazoned with the phrase “Mission Accomplished” as he spoke aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, to mark the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq after just over a month of fighting.

The war in Iraq dragged on for years to come, American casualties piled up, and the “Mission Accomplished” banner became a punch line.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King said “it’s impossible to say at this point” whether the United States’ mission in Syria has been accomplished.

“I think it’s very difficult to say ‘mission accomplished’ if the mission is to deter the use of chemical weapons,” he said. “We hope that will be the case, but we did a strike a year ago for that same purpose and it was deemed a success, but the chemical weapons have continued to be used.”

Democratic lawmakers also called out Trump after he announced the strike for not going to Congress for approval of the military action.

“The President must come to Congress and secure an Authorization for Use of Military Force by proposing a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives that keep our military safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement Friday night.

Trump said Friday that the US is “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

The Pentagon repeated Saturday that the President has the authority under the Constitution to defend US interests, but what happens next is up to the Assad regime and Russia.

(©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

 

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