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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Makes Secret Visit to Syria

Jan. 18, 2017 (EIRNS)—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) made a secret visit to Syria, Agence France Presse reported today, after speaking to Gabbard’s spokesman, Emily Lattimer.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, made a fact-finding mission to Damascus, Syria’s capital, despite continued fighting in violation of the fragile ceasefire. Lattimer said, "She felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups, including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees, and government and community leaders."

Rep. Gabbard had met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York in November, two weeks after his election, to discuss Syria policy. Gabbard said that at that meeting she had expressed

"my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called ‘no fly/safe zone’ would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world."

Gabbard has long opposed a U.S. policy of regime change in Syria, because it would result in Syria’s further descent into chaos if President Bashar Assad were ousted.

Lattimer declined to say whether Gabbard had met with Assad on her trip, which also included a stop in Lebanon.

On Jan. 13, Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which bars U.S. taxpayer money from supporting organizations allied with or backing "terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in their war to overthrow the Syrian govenrment." The bill would block U.S. government funding or provision of weapons to groups seeking to overthrow the Assad regime, including the Levant Front and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

"Our limited resources should go toward rebuilding our communities here at home, not fueling more counterproductive regime-change wars abroad,"

she said on the House floor. She urged her colleagues to "stop this madness."

Gabbard is still in the Mideast, Agence France Presse reports.