- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 8, 2017

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Friday questioned the Trump administration’s assertion that Syria President Bashar Assad gassed innocent civilians this week, casting doubt over the White House’s claim while raising concerns over its response.

The third-term Hawaii Democrat told CNN on Friday that she was “skeptical” the Assad regime was responsible for waging a chemical weapons attack in northern Syria on Tuesday, the likes of which triggered President Trump to authorize a military strike two days later.

“There are a number of theories that are out there,” Ms. Gabbard said with respect to the source of Tuesday’s attack.

“There are a number of ways that you can point the finger,” she added. “Standing here and pointing fingers does not accomplish peace for the Syrian people.”

Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, both said this week that the Syrian government regime was responsible for killing dozens of civilians with chemical weapons Tuesday. In light of the Pentagon’s response, however, Ms. Gabbard warned against the administration being quick to attribute the attack to the Assad regime or engage in hostilities.

“Escalating a counter-productive, destructive regime-change war is harmful for the Syrian people and its harmful for the United States and our national security interests. We need to learn our lessons from the past,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday.

In January, Ms. Gabbard traveled to Syria and met personally with Mr. Assad in Damascus. Speaking to Fox News on Friday, the congresswoman said it wasn’t relevant whether she believed his government was behind Tuesday’s attack.

“It doesn’t matter what I believe or not. What matters is evidence and facts,” she told Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Friday.

“If the Trump administration has the evidence, unequivocally proving this, then share it with the American people,” she added. “Share it with Congress. Come to Congress and make your case before launching an unauthorized, illegal military strike against a foreign government.”

Mr. Trump on Thursday authorized the U.S. military to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield from where Washington says the Assad regime waged Tuesday’s attack. The Pentagon has since called the strike a “proportional response.”

The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons and condemned Tuesday’s attack as as “criminal act.”

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