Virginia state Sen. Richard Black apparently wrote an April 1 letter to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, but it’s not an April Fools’ joke.

“Dear President al-Assad, I write to thank the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians,” the letter begins, setting up one of the letter’s main contentions: Assad’s forces are protecting religious minorities in Syria, while Islamist rebels are committing atrocities.

The letter caught media attention when it was posted to the Syrian president’s Facebook page Monday.

Image source: Bashar al Assad/Facebook

Image source: Facebook

“You have followed the practice of your father by treating with respect all Christians and the small community of Jews in Damascus,” Black wrote. ”By contrast, wherever rebels have seized control, they have acted as thieves, criminals and vandals. They raped, tortured, kidnapped and beheaded innocent people.”

Virginia state Sen. Richard Black. (Image source: Virginia General Assembly website)

Virginia state Sen. Richard Black. (Image source: Virginia General Assembly website)

Black questioned why American sympathies lie with the rebels because “it is obvious that the war in Syria has largely been fought by vicious war criminals linked to al-Qaeda.”

Black, a Loudon County Republican, concluded with a full-out endorsement of Assad: ”I pray that your army will drive the Jihadists from Syria, so that Syrians of all faiths may live together in peace.”

BuzzFeed and the Washington Post both reported that Black confirmed his authorship of the letter, which isn’t the first time Black has spoken out in support of the Syrian president.

The situation on the ground is muddy, as Assad has been accused of being a brutal dictator, while rebels have been accused of various atrocities and do have, in at least some cases, links to Al Qaeda.

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