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

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard knocks Clinton's jab at Sanders: 'This isn't high school' The data is clear: A woman could win in 2020 'I Like Bernie' hashtag trends after Clinton criticizes Sanders MORE (D-Hawaii) on Friday ripped President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign 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) HaleyIs Mike Pence preparing to resign, assume the presidency, or both? Judd Apatow urges Georgia voters to get rid of Doug Collins after 'terrorists' comment Nikki Haley: Democratic leadership, 2020 Dems are the only people mourning Soleimani death 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 HarrisRep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Actor Michael Douglas endorses Bloomberg for president Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' 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 CuomoMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Tucker Carlson delivers program's largest audience during Iranian missile strike coverage Judge Judy dismisses Biden: 'Do you see greatness?' MORE following her breakout performance in the August debate.

—Tess Bonn