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Syrians In San Diego Plead For U.S. Military Action

Above: People rally outside of Rep. Susan Davis' (D-Calif.) office to urge support for U.S. military action in Syria, on Sept. 6, 2013,

— As the world waits to find out whether the U.S. will strike Syria, some Syrian Americans in San Diego are pleading for U.S. military strikes on their homeland.

Aired 9/10/13 on KPBS News.

As the world waits to find out whether the U.S. will strike Syria, protesters across San Diego County have been taking to the streets and social media to get their voices heard.

"One, two, three, four, kick Bashar out the door," they chanted outside San Diego Congresswoman Susan Davis' office. They're urging an air strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime to punish the leader for alleged use of chemical weapons and to save their families, who are struggling to survive in the war-torn country.

I don’t ask for war," said Anthony Khiralla, a Syrian American. "If they could solve it with diplomacy, fine by me. Kick Assad out the door and let the people live. But if this is the only avenue . . "

Khiralla has lived in the United States for 30 years, but his mother, sister and other family members live in Aleppo, Syria. He said he hasn’t been able to talk to them in nearly two weeks and he’s extremely worried.

"I don’t know if my family is alright, if they’re OK, if they have enough to eat, if they’ve been hostage in their home, if they fleed somewhere," Khiralla said. "With no communication, I’m just cut off from the world over there."

Rim Alahmad has a similiar story with aunts, uncles and cousins living in Aleppo.

"We lost many family members and we hope it’s going to end soon because the Syrian people cannot take it anymore," said Alahmad.

Alahmad has lived in America for 23 years. Her daughter, Zina, was born and raised in the U.S. The two went to the Turkey-Syria border in March to help care for refugee children.

Zina said she can’t get the haunting images out of her mind.

"Some were shot, some were paralyzed for life, and these are young innocent children," said Alahmad.

Obaada Elhomsy was born in America, but raised in Syria.

"I’m an American and I’m a Syrian American," explained Elhomsy. "America means a big thing to me – the same as Syria."

Elhomsy returned from Damascus to San Diego two years ago, just after the Syrian uprising began. He said he joined protests there and escaped bullets from al-Assad’s regime. He said his friends were kidnapped during a later protest and found tortured and killed.

“They were 19 years old, 20 years old, peaceful civilians, they didn’t do anything," he said.

Elhomsy said he’s desperate for the U.S. to strike so that the killing of innocent civilians will stop.

But polls show most Americans are reluctant to support military involvement, worried about the U.S. entering another conflict after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rob Baldwin is one of them.

"We should never get involved in any kind of a civil war in any country for any reason," said Baldwin. "It’s none of our business."

Baldwin said chemical weapons don’t justify a strike.

“We’ve used chemical weapons so many times," Baldwin said. "We’ve used white phrosphorus, we’ve used the atomic weapons in Hiroshima in Nagasaki, we’ve used agent orange that killed tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese -- on and on and on and on."

Erma Collins fears retaliation if the U.S gets involved militarily.

“I think Russia and Iran will make good on their threats," said Collins. "I think it could be the start of something like World War III."

Collins’ sister Barbara Wright worries about the safety of her family here in the U.S.

"If we start getting in a war over there, what about North Korea?" asked Wright. "They’re just waiting for stuff to happen and they’ll bomb us."

But Mazen Akkae worries his family members in Aleppo won’t survive much longer in the conditions they're living in.

“I have a brother and sister there," said Akkae. "And I can honestly say, they are sitting there without food, without water to drink because they are surrounded by the Assad regime."

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 10, 2013 at 11:52 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

A reporter I heard on NPR said that he talked to several people in Damascus and that they were all against. He added that only one top level commander favored a US or Coalition strike. There is also the following and I inivte anyone who attended this raly to post here:

Syria protests: Hundreds of thousands of Syrian protest against‎Cached
View shared post
by Alexandra Sandels - in 405 Google+ circles
Jul 23, 2011 - Protesters in Hama hold a giant Syrian flag in demonstrations ... about demonstrations and want to make sure that those injured in protests are ...

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | September 10, 2013 at 5:49 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Hey, if you want to help in the Syrian conflict, buy a plane ticket. Why should we send our kids to their civil war. What did they expect was going to happen when they take on Assad? A tea party with cookies? Say NO to war with Syria !!!!!!!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | September 10, 2013 at 7:29 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Looks as though we have dodged the bullet for now.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | September 11, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

We just need to take care of our own mess. This "policeman of the world" stuff is taking too many lives, crippling our youth and bankrupting the country. Problem is, there will always be a reason somewhere. These third world cesspools will always be what they are, and they will always hate us.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 11, 2013 at 11:38 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

_uckpoo, well they will always hate people like you, that's for sure!

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | September 11, 2013 at 12:22 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

The headline would be more appropriate if it stated the approximate number of protesters, and maybe somewhere in the article you could link a poll regarding more broad Syrian-American opinion.

Just trying to keep it objective...

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 11, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I have not seen a convincing argument that freeing Syrians for a Syrian oppressor is an AMerican responsability.
We can advise them
We can cheer them on
We can sell/give them (some) weapons
We cannot get stuck to another Arabian tar baby, there is no way that will end well for us.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | September 11, 2013 at 2:33 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Awwww, Mission hurt my feelings. LMAO

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Avatar for user 'x76'

x76 | September 12, 2013 at 8:09 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

The "rebels" are OUTSIDE MERCENARIES. These people are Syrian, but support OUTSIDE MERCENARIES? Insanity! Revolutions do not begin from outside a nation. Look at a map. OUTSIDE MERCENARIES.

Israel wants all its neighbors reduced to squabbling factions. I'd suggest that these people are in support of Israel (don't want to use the Z-word; leads to banishment). Observe AIPAC agitating for US military strikes on Syria ("Let's you and him fight").

NO military action against Syria. Or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. Put the power on the shelf and LEAVE IT THERE. Allow peace to break out.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | September 12, 2013 at 9:36 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Sargon, who died in 2284 BCE, had a standing army of 5,400 soldiers with which he conquered Ebla in Syria; his empire survived 125 years. Badger Clark, poet laureate of South Dakota (January 1, 1883 – September 26, 1957) wrote:

Since the days that Lot and Abram split the Jordan range in halves
Just to fix it so their punchers wouldn't fight,
Since old Jacob skinned his dad-in-law for six years' crop of calves
And then hit the trail for Canaan in the night,
There has been a taste for battle 'mong the men that followed cattle:
The warmth of Laban's words when he missed his speckled herds
Still is useful in the language of the range !

The terms extracted by the British in the Treaty of 1795 negotiated by John Jay appeared to confirm the pro-British leanings of the government. "In place of that noble love of liberty and republican government which carried us through the war," Jefferson wrote in a letter of April 1796, "an Anglican monarchial/aristocratical party has sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over to us to the substance, as they have already done the forms of British government."

Alexander Hamilton's plans for the government's assumption of the country's debts and establishment of a national bank threatened to undermine the constitutional balance between the states and central government by permitting the latter to take on powers not delegated to it by the states.

Growing tensions with France appeared to put the nation on course for war with her sister republic. For Jefferson, the Naturalization, Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 exposed the repressive character of the administration and its contempt for the revolutionary principles that had forged the nation.

Hamilton argued that the attempt "by Virginia and Kentucky to unite the State Legislatures in a direct resistance to certain laws of the Union can be considered in no other light than as an attempt to change the government," and warned that supporters of the federal government should be ready if necessary "to make its continued existence a question of force."

From April 1915, during The Great War, poison gas (including chlorine, cyanide, and mustard gas) was used by both sides. And it was responsible for killing 91,000 soldiers. "If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud." ~Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum est, 1918.

I wanted to see the playing fields where Battle of Waterloo was won, so I toured the Windsor Castle area and the playing fields of Eton College. I understand David Cameron is the nineteenth prime minister who went to that famous school. Most striking was the Memorial Wall list of grandfathers / fathers / sons / brothers from the same family who fought and died in the Great War 1914-1919. Each name on the wall is followed by "Floreat Etona." Long may Eton live.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | September 12, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Arab cavalry occupied Damascus on Oct. 1, 1918. T.E. Lawrence had been instrumental in obtaining Allied support for Feisal Ibn Hussein. Many Arabs felt betrayed by postwar arrangements in the Middle East which saw Syria under French control.

American military commanders planned to use poison-gas shells fired from warships to flush out and destroy the Japanese soldiers dug in at Iwo Jima (Feb. 19 - Mar. 24, 1945) but FDR forbade it. Iwo was a fortress of caves, tunnels, bunkers, trenches, pillboxes and artillery, all skillfully arrayed. My late friend Ed Seidensticker survived WWII. He went on to win the Order of the Rising Sun, Third Class, in 1975 for translating Japanese novels into English -- one of which by Yasunari Kawabata won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

French President Francois Hollande said that British recalcitrance wouldn't weaken his government's commitment to sanction the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished," Hollande said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | September 12, 2013 at 12:35 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

American Taiwanese want the U.S. to deal with China. American Persians want the U.S. to deal with Iran. American Syrians want the U.S. to deal with Syria, etc. They sound like that undertaker in the opening scenes of "The Godfather." Our military isn't the mafia.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 12, 2013 at 1:53 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Excellent post Thompson, only that the Sykes-Picot Arrangement which split up the Levant was in 1916, not in 1918.

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