WASHINGTON D.C. – Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has returned to Washington, D.C. from a “secret” visit to war torn Syria.
Gabbad was on 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,” her office reported today.
Gabbard missed the inauguration of President Donald Trump while she was on her visit to Syria, which was dubbed a “secret trip” by media. It was reported that Congressional leaders were blindsided by the news.
Gabbard says she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the trip.
“Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad,” Gabbard stated in a media release, “but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.”
The video, posted to Gabbard’s YouTube channel and shared with media, was recorded by her husband Abraham Williams and shows the Congresswoman meeting with children at a shelter in Aleppo, as well as Syrian religious leaders, and being driven down streets surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings.
Gabbard heard stories of “suffering, pain, courage and hope from people all across the country,” her office stated. The Congresswoman also 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, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and more.”
“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, a Democrat and a twice-deployed combat veteran. “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.”
On January 13, Gabbard took to the floor of the House, where she 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.” She repeated her call to end such support again upon her return from Syria.
“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard stated. “I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.
“From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS,” the Congresswoman stated. “The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”
Gabbard’s office says the 7-day trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee, as required by House rules, and was not taxpayer funded.