HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she would call for Bashar Al Assad's "prosecution and execution" if the Syrian president is indeed behind a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians, including many children.
Gabbard, D-Hawaii, got heat from many of her colleagues and constituents after meeting with Assad twice during a recent trip to the war-torn country.
The statements came on the same day that the president launched missiles at Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack.
In a follow-up statement, Gabbard called President Trump's decision to launch an air strike "short-sighted."
"This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning," she said.
Some 80 people were killed earlier this week in the chemical attack in a northern Syria town. The Trump administration and others have blamed the attack on government forces, and on Thursday called the military strike in the "vital national security interest" of the United States.
In a statement released before the missiles were launched Thursday, Gabbard said, "A successful prosecution of Assad (at the International Criminal Court) will require collection of evidence from the scene of the incident, and I support the United Nation's efforts in this regard. Without such evidence, a successful prosecution is impossible."
But Gabbard also said she strongly opposes military escalation aimed at overthrowing the Syrian government "because it will mean more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of terrorists, and a possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia."
She added, "I will do everything within my power to prevent such a calamity."
Gabbard's visit to Syria in January was roundly criticized by those on the right and the left, who said sitting down with the leader of a regime behind the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians gave him credibility on the international stage.
A Muslim leader in Hawaii called the visit a "black mark" against the Congresswoman.
But Gabbard argued that she made the visit to Syria as part of her opposition to military escalation, and also said her meetings with Assad were impromptu.
She said she received an invitation to meet with Assad after she had already left the United States and landed in Beirut.