Tulsi Gabbard rips Trump's Syria decision: 'Kurds are now paying the price'

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardBiden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage MORE (D-Hawaii) on Friday ripped President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE over his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria and turn operations over to Turkey.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, told Hill.TV said that even though she supported Trump’s initial decision in December 2018 to move troops from the region, she said he has failed to do so in a responsible way.

“All that he has done is remove them from the northern border of Syria — really laying out a red-carpet, a green light for [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and Turkey to launch an ethnic cleansing and offensive against the Kurds,” Gabbard told Hill.TV.

“Because of Trump’s failure to end the regime change war in Syria — the Kurds are now paying the price,” she added.

The Hawaii Democrat previously criticized Trump and other Republicans over the move in a series on tweets on Tuesday.

“The hypocrisy of war-mongers like Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHaley: Dylann Roof 'hijacked' Confederate flag Trump: Kellyanne Conway 'must have done some bad things' to 'crazy' husband Trump says Pence will remain on 2020 ticket: 'He's our man 100 percent' MORE, Senator Graham & others who have demanded that we continue our regime change war in Syria, who are now crying crocodile tears for the Kurds, is nauseating,” she tweeted.

Gabbard's latest comments came after Turkey this week launched a military offensive against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces in northern Syria following a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the area.

The Syrian Democratic Forces have long been U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and Trump's move to relocate U.S. troops in advance of Turkey's attack prompted lawmakers in both parties to accuse Trump of betraying American allies.

Several of the Trump’s most vocal allies, including Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), pushed back against the pullout, saying it could be the “biggest mistake” of Trump’s presidency.

But Trump stood by his decision to move the troops, arguing that the U.S. could “take a victory.”

"We don't have any soldiers there because we left, we won, we left, take a victory United States," Trump said at a campaign rally on Thursday. "Bring our troops back home."

Since launching her presidential bid, Gabbard has faced renewed scrutiny on her own relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In 2017, the Hawaii congressman faced backlash after revealing that she met with the Syrian leader, who has also been accused of human rights abuses against his own people.

In response to criticism from her opponents, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBooker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Yang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations MORE (D-Calif.), Gabbard has since sought to distance herself from Assad, describing him as a “brutal dictator.”

"He's a brutal dictator. Just like Saddam Hussein. Just like Gadhafi in Libya," Gabbard told CNN's Chris CuomoChristopher (Chris) Charles CuomoYoung Turks founder: Past remarks on women were attempt 'to be a stupid, politically incorrect Republican' Trump 2020 national spokesperson gives birth to daughter Trump tweets altered CNN clip mocking Cuomo segment MORE following her breakout performance in the August debate.

—Tess Bonn