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Foreign policy

Tulsi Gabbard says Assad is 'not the enemy,' says it's 'possible' he used chemical weapons on Syrians

Presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) believes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not an enemy of the U.S. because Syria "does not pose a direct threat to the United States."

Gabbard made the comment on MSNBC's Morning Joe, and she was pressed further by host Joe Scarborough and NBC News Correspondent Kasie Hunt over whether American interests are really aligned with Syria's.

After Gabbard said "we need to look at how [Assad's] interests are counter to or aligned with ours," Hunt replied that "Assad seems interested in the slaughter primarily of his own people." Pressed repeatedly on whether she considered Assad an "adversary," Gabbard said "you can describe it however you want to describe it."

Co-host Willie Geist later questioned Gabbard over whether Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, per The Daily Beast. Gabbard, who has previously expressed skepticism over Assad carrying out attacks, said she certainly thinks "it's possible."

Gabbard came under scrutiny in 2017 when she met with Assad during a "fact finding" trip to Syria. The congresswoman claimed the meeting was originally unplanned, and she said she took it out of concern for the Syrian people. Syria is currently in the midst of a civil war that began in 2011. Assad's military has fought U.S.-backed rebels, and the war has led to thousands of civilian deaths.