Local Syrians react to possible US military action, plan protest

Published: Aug 27 2013 05:00:19 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 27 2013 07:10:08 PM EDT
Syria unrest

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that U.S. forces are ready to go if President Obama pulls the trigger on Syria.

Some local Syrian Americans said Tuesday that they're not convinced Bashar al Assad's regime is responsible for the chemical attacks in that country. Some said they fear what could happen if the U.S. government does take action.

"There is no clear evidence or clear videos what is going on on my side. I don't think the government has anything to do with that," said Tarek Yacoub, of the Lehigh Valley.

Yacoub said Syrians are being showered with propaganda following a chemical weapons attack that killed a thousand people in his country last week.

U.S. officials said the regime of Bashar al Assad is responsible.

But even though Yacoub is among many Christian Syrians in the Lehigh Valley who support Assad, Yacoub said it doesn't make sense that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons against its own people, especially after it was warned by President Obama a year ago not to do so.

But Henri Barkey, a professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, said that is an unlikely theory.

"The truth is that nobody else has the capability to do this kind of bombardment," said Barkey.

Syria has been engulfed in a civil war for more than two years.

If the U.S. takes action, Barkey said it will be limited in scale and will seek to avoid civilian casualties.

"I suspect that this is going to be a warning shot to do damage to the regime, but it will not overthrow it," said Barkey.

Aziz Wehbay, president of the American Amarian Syrian Charity Society, said, like many Syrian Americans, he is worried about what could happen if the U.S. gets involved.

"I don't believe anybody should interfere with the sovereignty of the Syrian nation," said Wehbay.

The Lehigh Valley Syrian community will hold a rally on Friday to protest U.S. involvement and is urging people to contact lawmakers in Washington.