Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard made a secret trip to Syria recently in order to meet with government officials about the country's civil war, but her office won't say if she met with President Bashar Assad.
Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday that Gabbard, a Hawaii veteran of the Iraq war, "just departed" the war-torn country still wrapped up in an almost six-year conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead.
Gabbard is one of the few lawmakers in favor of leaving Assad in power in order to end the conflict.
She "felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders," said Emily Latimer, a spokeswoman for the congresswoman, to the magazine.
She added, "Gabbard has long been committed to peace and ending counterproductive, interventionist wars." But Latimer declined to comment on whether Gabbard met with Assad while she was in the country.
It's rare for an American lawmaker to travel to Syria, especially as a cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey has been repeatedly violated.
The conflict started after peaceful protests against Assad were met with force by the government, throwing the country into a deadly conflict that's involved Assad using chemical weapons against his own people. Millions of people have left the country, and those who remain are now mired in a humanitarian crisis.