Representative Tulsi Gabbard met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a four-day fact-finding trip to Syria and Lebanon.
Gabbard reaffirmed her opposition to U.S. funding for rebel groups opposing the Syrian leader, who is supported by Russia despite accusations that he has used chemical weapons against civilians.
Syria is one of seven nations that have been subject to bombardment during the Obama administration.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the two-term Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii said though she did not initially plan to meet with Assad, she did so because “we’ve got to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about.”
A military veteran who served in Afghanistan, Gabbard returned to Washington, DC after a week-long visit to Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people, saying she heard stories of suffering, pain, courage and hope from people all across the country.
Gabbard met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government.
The Congresswoman also met with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and others.
“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people,” said Gabbard. “As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”
“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” said Gabbard.
In a speech on the House floor on January 13, 2017, Gabbard urged lawmakers to support the bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit the U.S. government from using American taxpayer dollars to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups.
U.S. manned and unmanned aircraft conducted a precision air strike Jan. 19 against an al-Qaida training camp in Idlib Province, Syria. The Pentagon claimed that more than 100 al-Qaida fighters were killed in the attack on the day before Obama left the White House.
“I know the cost of war. I feel it is my duty to take every opportunity possible to advocate for peace,” said the Congresswoman in a message pinned to her Twitter feed.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!