News / Middle East

Some Syrian Rebel Chiefs Back US Strike

This Tuesday, July 9, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels running during heavy clashes with Syrian troops.
This Tuesday, July 9, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels running during heavy clashes with Syrian troops.
Heather Murdock
Some in the rebel Free Syrian Free Army have high hopes a U.S. strike against the Syrian government will turn the tide of the civil war in their favor and put an end the fighting. As the U.S. Congress considers approving limited strikes to punish President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, a Free Army captain in Lebanon, as well as analysts say these hopes will unravel when bombs start falling.  
 
Under this bridge in Beirut, Syrian refugees say the local government kicks most of the families out during the day, but they are left alone if they return to sleep at night.  
 
This man, Abu Yusuf, says he fled fighting in Syria and he fears if something doesn’t change soon, the war will continue indefinitely, eventually spreading into Lebanon.   
 
A few hours away from the bridge, in a location more comfortable but equally as tenuous, Abdullah Tlass, a Free Syrian Army commander, visits with his family, who are also refugees in Lebanon.  He asks us not to disclose his exact location.
 
While the children watch cartoons on television, he says American involvement in Syria’s two and a half year old civil war is the only way to stop the bloodshed.  
 
Like his cousin, Abdul Razzaq Tlass, a better-known Free Syrian Army commander, Abdullah Tlass defected from the government army to the rebels more than a year and a half ago because, he says, he was told to kill innocent people.  He says now he commands about 1,300 soldiers, but only 70 percent of them have weapons.   
 
While many fear a power vacum will follow a victory by any group in Syria, Tlass says the Free Army has a government set up that could rule the country temporarily while they organize elections.

But he says, if the West does not commit to taking out the regime, the war will continue indefinitely because the Free Army will keep fighting to beat the government army and drive Assad's supporters out of Syria, he says, even if it takes 100 years.
 
No matter how long the war lasts, he adds, he wants his own children to go to school far away from Syria, which is in shambles with 100,000 dead and millions displaced.
 
Some analysts say the West should not intervene in Syria, precisely because the country is reeling.  The U.N. refugee agency says more than 2 million people have fled and the agency says it is nearly $2 billion short of what is needed to provide the bare minimum of assistance to everyone.
 
This is Kamel Wazne, the director of American Strategic Studies in Beirut:
 
“We see Syrian children not being taken care for because there’s not enough money allocated to alleviate the pain and the suffering but we see all of the sudden countries - Arab countries and Western countries - wanting to put billions and billions for war.  I think that’s a failure of leadership," said Wazne.
 
Wazne says supporters of the Free Army who believe American involvement will end the war underestimate the strength of Islamist groups in Syria, which are already drawing jihadis from other parts of the region to fight the regime.  
 
Bombs aimed at the regime could turn Syria’s civil war into a regional war, he says, as sectarian divides cross borders.  Lebanon has already become more violent, he adds, with nearly 50 people killed by a car bomb late last month.
 
“I don’t want to see a country next to my country in Lebanon headed by extremists, by al-Qaida, by terrorist organizations that cause a threat to me in my own country," he said.
 
Refugees say they need to have hope that the war will end, because they don’t know how long they can survive being refugees.  
 
Abu Yusuf, from under the Beirut bridge, says he wants the people in the outside world to know something: If outsiders help end the war, he says, Syria - an ancient civilization with strong people - will rebuild their country as fast as it was destroyed.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid