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Presidential candidate and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard doubles down on her defense of Syrian dictator Assad

She said that US involvement in Syria was 'being waged under false pretenses'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

During an interview with Vice News, presidential hopeful and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) stood by her defense of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying she wasn't convinced that he ever used chemical weapons.

What's the background?

In 2017, Gabbard travelled to Syria to meet with Assad, while the rest of the U.S. government was condemning him for launching brutal chemical weapons attacks against his own people.

Gabbard has repeatedly and publicly contested reports that Assad used chemical weapons, and slammed U.S. airstrikes on Syria as "short-sighted" and "illegal."

By September 2018, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 522,000 people had been killed in the 8 1/2-year-long Syrian civil war. The vast majority of these (85 percent as of March 2018) were civilians who were killed by Assad's forces or by his allies.

What did she say?

When Vice asked her about Assad's use of chemical weapons, Gabbard tried to deflect by saying that "there have been a lot of different chemical weapons attacks. I think they have been perpetuated — perpetrated, by these governments, as well as by other terrorist groups and other actors."

She called it "another regime change war" that was "being waged under false pretenses."

Vice's DC correspondent Liz Landers pressed her further. "When you say false pretenses, though, U.S. officials determined that Assad did use these chemical weapons against his own people—"

"Didn't we hear that about Iraq?" Gabbard responded. "We heard that from U.S. officials, we heard that from our secretary of state, we heard that from the U.N."

Gabbard also said that even though she sits on the Homeland Security Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee, she does not believe the intelligence that these committees received "on face value."

Tulsi Gabbard is Extremely Anti-War — and Still Defending Her Visit with Assad www.youtube.com

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