Local Syrians on the possibility of strikes on against their home country

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Sign in Erbeen, Syria Photo via Flickr by FreedomHouse / Creative Commons

On yesterday’s Which Way, LA? Warren talked to  Brad Sherman of the San Fernando Valley and Janice Hahn, whose district includes San Pedro, Wilmington and Compton. But the most striking voices came from those who are in regular contact with Syrian friends and family members back home. There are 150,000 Syrian Americans living in Southern California, we heard from three. Here’s some of what they had to say about the possibility of military strikes on their home country:

My position is very positive and I would like this strike to happen — limited strike — in a way that we don’t put any life in jeopardy of our army, our kids to be in the face of danger. We are a great country; we are capable of administering a strike of that sort. And this should  have happened a long time ago, and we shouldn’t have waited until after 120 thousand innocent civilians died,  we should have interfered a long time ago…  We have to uphold our standards and the way we live, and we really have to stand up for those who are weak. Now innocent civilians are being killed for two and a half years and nobody is doing anything. So should we wait another two and a half years or wait for another chemical attack? I don’t know, I have no answer for you. But it kills me day and night because I have family there, my brothers, my neices…  — Saleh Kholaki, Chair of the Board of the Islamic Center of Southern California, based in Duarte

For many Syrians inside Syria, they believe, at least the ones I’ve been in contact with, including individuals inside Damascus, inside government controlled areas, they believe that without any sort of response, you’re basically giving the Assad regime a green light to continue its warfare against people and use completely outlawed weapons that have been outlawed for decades, against its population with complete impunity. For them, its unfathomable that the strongest country in the world won’t respond to blatant use of chemical weapons, blatant use of conventional weapons that have killed, like Mr. Kholaki was saying, over 100 thousand according to the UN figures, realistically around 120 thousand… I am ambivalent [about strikes], I flip flop because I hear what the Syrians inside Syria are saying, and it also breaks my heart that the only hope comes in foreign bombs – US bombs being dropped on Syria. For me, honestly, I reject this binary analysis of, do we strike or do we not strike? I  think the question is, how do we end the bloodshed? — Reem Salahi, civil rights attorney, based in Pasadena

We’re definitely against any US intervention and everybody in Damascus is against US intervention, but that does not make us a supporter of the Assad regime. We don’t believe that you have to be a supporter of the regime to be a supporter of your country… I’m astonished, to be honest, to be listening to two Syrians who claim to be a mosque director and a human rights activist and what they say is bombing Syria is the solution. It’s really astonishing. What’s incredible is that no one wants to discuss the other side, everybody blames the Assad regime, I’m not saying the government is not responsible for everything that’s happened in Syria. Yet no one wants to talk about the armed rebels, the terrorists who are doing the beheading, the slitting of the throats, the executions of prisoners of war, the ransacking of towns of killing of innocent civilians who are doing nothing, who are not taking any part. — Johnny Achi,  founder of the LA- based Arab Americans for Syria and a San Fernando Valley resident now in Damascus

You can listen to the whole show here: