U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard made new surprising remarks on Friday in which she once again supported Syrian President Bashar Assad, calling him and the Iraqi premier “the most genuine people in their efforts to fight terrorism.”

The Hawaiian Democratic Representative who was being interviewed by CNN criticized U.S. policies of regime change in Syria saying she is ‘surprised’ by the media coverage of the Middle East crises. She said there are no moderate rebels in Syria but there are terrorist groups like al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham, and ISIS who are being provided support by the United States and other allies like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to topple the Syrian president.

“I believe the most genuine people in their efforts to fight terrorism right now are the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Syrian President Bashar Assad. We cannot ignore the great efforts of the Russian President Putin in supporting these two countries in fighting terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra,” claimed Gabbard. “The United States draws a distinction between terrorists, dividing them into good and bad terrorists.”

The U.S lawmaker had a seven-day trip to Syria and Lebanon in January where she met and talked with many Syrian refugees, Syrian opposition leaders, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government, and also some Christian clergymen of the war-stricken city of Aleppo.

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Gabbard also had a secret meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad which drew strong criticism from many people. She called the regime change war ‘counterproductive’ saying it does not serve America’s interest or the interest of the Syrian people.

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Upon her return, Gabbard released a statement in defending herself saying “Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, 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.”

“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,” Gabbard stated.

Later in February, her Stop Arming Terrorists Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Rand Paul. The bipartisan legislation would prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and would prohibit the government from funneling money and weapons to terrorists through other countries who are directly or indirectly supporting them.

Although an Iraq War veteran, Gabbard was against the invasion of Iraq. She said in late 2012, “I was against the war in Iraq. We never should have gone there in the first place.” She believes that the United States’ victory conditions in Iraq were not been clearly defined. In 2014 she voted against renewed U.S. military engagement in Iraq.”

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