Virginia senator flies to Syria to shake Bashar Assad’s hand — while airstrikes bombarded Aleppo

RICHMOND, Va. — As a veteran politician, Virginia Sen. Richard H. Black is no stranger to the grip- and-grin. But this was something extraordinary: a handshake with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A photo of their encounter in Damascus on Thursday zipped around the world via Twitter, the smiling, silver-haired state senator grasping the hand of a man the White House calls a brutal dictator.

At the same time, a series of airstrikes was being unleashed on rebel-controlled areas of Aleppo,

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