Local News

Local Syrian-Americans upset over US foot-dragging

Posted August 30, 2013 6:28 p.m. EDT

— Many Syrian-Americans say U.S. intervention in their homeland's civil war is long overdue. Although they were encouraged Friday by strong words from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, they said they said they don't understand the delay in taking action.

Kerry said the U.S. has "high confidence" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on a suburb of Damascus last week, citing intelligence reports that the attack killed more than 1,400 people.

Obama then said the U.S. was considering "limited and narrow" military action in Syria.

Still, Abed Hamed was angry as he watched coverage on an Arabic news station at the Al Baraka grocery store in Raleigh.

"He doesn't do anything. I don't know why. Something's wrong with him," said Hamed, a native of Damascus.

Syria's war has dragged on for 27 months. As many as 200,000 have been killed already.

"President of the United States, he's supposed to take action, like, a long time ago, not wait until now," Hamed said. "What difference if (Assad) killed like bombing houses or if used the chemicals? It's no different."

A Syrian fighter jet dropped an incendiary bomb on a schoolyard in Aleppo Friday, killing or maiming dozens of children.

"Assad and like Hitler. It's no difference," Hamed said. "Hitler, he burned Jewish people, and what's the difference between burning Jewish people and killing your own people?"

Shopkeeper Mahir Habta said that, whatever action the U.S. takes, it can't be just a token strike.

"Giving him a nice touch on his hand, it's not going to work this way. I believe it'll not work," Habta said. "He's going to get mad, and he's going to kill people more."

Hamed said he doesn't want to see foreign soldiers on the ground in Syria. Air strikes against Assad and military supplies for the rebels would be enough in their fight for freedom, he said.

Although his mother still lives in Damascus and won't leave, he wants Obama to order air strikes.

"If he like killed some civilians in Syria (in an air strike), like if he killed 200 or 1,000, it's better than to keep Assad doing this over and over and over," he said. "He might kill like a million. Which way would you rather it to be?"