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Assad's children visited Crimean holiday camp, Russian lawmaker says

FILE PHOTO: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with Syrian army soldiers in eastern Ghouta, Syria, March 18, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's children last year visited a holiday camp in Russian-annexed Crimea, the RIA news agency cited a Russian lawmaker as saying on Sunday.

Assad met a group of Russian lawmakers in Damascus on Sunday after the West launched missile strikes against Syria over a suspected poison gas attack.

Lawmaker Dmitry Sablin told RIA that Assad had said his children visited the Artek holiday camp in Crimea last year. Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, a move that prompted U.S. and European sanctions.

"My children were at Artek last year. After the trip they began to understand Russia better," Sablin quoted Assad as saying.

Assad has two sons and a daughter, born between 2001 and 2004. Syria's ambassador to Moscow said last year that the children had started learning to speak Russian, according to Russian media reports.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs in Moscow and Ellen Francis in Beirut; Editing by Kevin Liffey)