German nationalist lawmakers visit Syria, meet top cleric

BERLIN (AP) — Lawmakers from the nationalist Alternative for Germany party have come under fire for visiting Syria and meeting with officials close to President Bashar Assad.

The lawmakers posted pictures of their trip on social media Tuesday, including from a meeting with Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun.

Hassoun, an Assad loyalist, warned the West in 2011 against military intervention in Syria, threatening to retaliate with suicide bombings in the United States and Europe if his country came under attack.

Omid Nouripour, a foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s opposition Green Party, criticized the trip.

Nouripour accused AfD lawmakers of allowing “themselves to be courted in Damascus, while their hosts drop bombs on children no more than 15 kilometers away.”

AfD wants Syrian refugees in Germany to return home, claiming the conflict is over.

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