Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has just departed war-torn Damascus following what her aides described as a “fact-finding” mission to work toward ending the nearly six-year conflict in Syria.
Congressional travel to the devastated country is exceedingly rare, especially as fighting continues in direct violation of a recent cease-fire agreement brokered by Turkey and Russia. This week, Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese militants attempted to recapture a rebel-controlled area near Damascus that includes a pumping station that supplies most of the city’s water.
Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran who drew speculation about an appointment in the Trump administration after she met privately with the president-elect in November, has frequently bucked her party and Washington’s foreign-policy establishment in debates over the Syrian conflict.
For years, she has opposed a U.S. policy of regime change and says the country will become more unstable and dangerous if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ousted.
In describing the purpose of the trip, Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer 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.”
This month, she introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would prohibit the U.S. government from providing funding and weapons to Sunni militant groups working to overthrow the Assad regime, such as the Levant Front, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and al Qaeda.
In interviews, she has called for the United States to abandon its goal of removing Assad and focus on eliminating the Islamic State and al Qaeda.
“Gabbard has long been committed to peace and ending counterproductive, interventionist wars,” her spokeswoman told Foreign Policy.
Full article at Foreign Policy