This astonishing photograph shows U.S Secretary of State John Kerry having a cosy and intimate dinner with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Kerry – who compared Assad to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein yesterday – is pictured around a small table with his wife and the Assads in 2009.

Assad and Kerry – who was then a senator for Massachusetts – lean in towards each other and appear deep in conversation as their wives look on.

A waiter is pictured at their side with a tray of green drinks – which are believed to be lemon and crushed mint.

Cosy: This astonishing photograph shows the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife having an intimate dinner with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his wife in 2009Cosy: This astonishing photograph shows the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife having an intimate dinner with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his wife in 2009

Cosy: This astonishing photograph shows the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife having an intimate dinner with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his wife in 2009Relaxed: A waiter carries over a tray of drinks, which appear to look like cocktails

The picture is believed to have been taken in February 2009 in the Naranj restaurant in Damascus when Kerry led a delegation to Syria to discuss ideas and talk about the way forward for peace in the region.

Despite President Barack Obama taking a step back from his threat to launch an attack by putting  a vote in Congress, his Secretary of State has been outspoken about the dangers posed by the Syrian regime.

 

He said that Assad ‘has now joined the list of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein’ in deploying chemical weapons against his population.

He said on Sunday that the U.S. now has evidence that sarin nerve gas was used in Syria and that ‘the case gets stronger by the day’ for a military attack.

Speaking out: US Secretary of State John Kerry last week said the U.S. knows 'with high confidence' the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in an attack last weekSpeaking out: US Secretary of State John Kerry last week said the U.S. knows ‘with high confidence’ the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in an attack

 

 

Under pressure: Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, is pictured in a meeting yesterday. Kerry has described him as a ¿thug and murderer¿ Under pressure: Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, is pictured in a meeting yesterday. Kerry has described him as a ‘thug and murderer’

During a passionate speech in Washington last Friday, he also called Assad  a ‘thug and murderer’ and urged the world to act as he warned ‘history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’.

The U.S. administration put the Syrian chemical weapons death toll on the outskirts of Damascus at 1,429 people – far more than previous estimates – including more than 400 children.

Kerry has  said he is confident that Congress will give Obama its backing for an attack against Syria, but the former Massachusetts senator also said the president has authority to act on his own if Congress doesn’t give its approval.
Hundreds died in the alleged chemical attacks on Wednesday, including many women and children

Horrific: Hundreds died in the alleged chemical attacks, including many women and children

The Prime Minister said the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons on 10 other occasions before the attack that killed up to 1,200 in Damascus last week and warned the world 'should not stand idly by'

Awful: Secretary of State John Kerry said images like these contributed to the U.S. assessment that chemical weapons were used in Syria

While Kerry stopped short of saying Obama was committed to such a course even if lawmakers refuse to authorise force, he did say that ‘we are not going to lose this vote.’

Kerry said Obama has the right to take action against Syria, with or without Congress’ approval. But he stopped short of saying Obama was committed to such a course even if lawmakers refuse to authorize force.

Congress is scheduled to return from a summer break on September 9.

Kerry describing Syria’s Assad as a thug and murderer