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Iraq vet in Congress: Syria strike 'serious mistake'

9:27 AM, Sep 9, 2013   |    comments
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Tulsi Gabbard attends the 33rd Annual Women's Campaign Fund Parties of Your Choice Gala at Christie's Auction House on April 22, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Women's Campaign Fund)
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If ever there were a sign President Obama faces an uphill battle with Congress over Syria, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's statement Monday is a big, unmistakable warning.

Gabbard, a freshman Democrat from Hawaii and a military veteran, said she will vote "no" on the resolution authorizing Obama to use military force against the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons in Syria. That's three blows to Obama at once, coming from an Iraq veteran, a lawmaker from his own party, and one who happens to be from the president's native state.

STORY: Where Congress stands on Syria

"I am sickened and outraged by the carnage and loss of lives caused by the use of chemical weapons in Syria," Gabbard said in a statement. "It is with gravity that I have carefully considered all the facts, arguments and evidence and soberly weighed concerns regarding our national security and moral responsibility. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that a U.S. military strike against Syria would be a serious mistake."

A survey by the USA TODAY network finds only a small fraction of Congress is willing to come out publicly in favor of Obama's call to strike Syria.

Gabbard flew back to Washington last week to take part in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria. In her statement, Gabbard expressed concern that a military strike on Syria could "escalate into a regional conflict" and fail to "eliminate Syria's chemical weapons or prevent them from being used again."

Gabbard did a tour of duty in Iraq and one in Kuwait as a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard. She joins Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost both her legs and use of an arm while serving in Iraq, among the military veterans who oppose air strikes in Syria.

GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, also Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, have publicly supported Obama's call to use military force.

Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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