Posted at: 09/06/2013 11:11 PM
Updated at: 09/06/2013 11:13 PM
By: Steph Crock
Minnesotans with Ties to Syria Speak About Ongoing Turmoil
(ABC 6 News) -- As the death toll in Syria continues to rise at an alarming rate, it's still unclear if the U.S. will intervene. More than 100,000 people have been killed during the conflict in Syria that's been going on for more than two years now, but just days after alleged gas attacks near its capitol, President Obama insists the U.S. take military action. That decision is still in the hands of the House and Senate.
We spoke with two men who have family and friends currently living in Syria, both talk to their loved ones on a daily basis through calls and Skype. The two say their family and friends feel hopeless and scared. We asked their thoughts on the U.S. stepping in.
"People went first just asking for freedom. That is a simple question. They were not answered, they were treated brutally, and things went wrong," said Aref Al-Kali.
Currently in Syria there are families living in fear and children growing up in a place full of constant violence "They are so fearful of the psychological effects of growing up in a conflict, hearing random explosions, hearing gun fire," said Waleed Brinjikji.
"They are in Damascus which is at the capitol of Syria and I think everybody is at risk of being attacked or being killed too," said Al-Kali.
The two men are Syrian, but are U.S. citizens living in Minnesota. They have family and friends who are living in the heart of all of the chaos. They say worrying for them consumes their every day. "More than 100,000 people were killed, almost 7 million people are now in need of aid, more than 2 million people are now outside of Syria. They're refuges asking for help, needing help," said Al-Kali.
The latest accusations of chemical weapons are what's become most frightening. "Three people in the history of mankind have used chemical weapons against their own people. Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and now Bashar Al-Assad. This is the kind of guy that we're dealing with," said Brinjikji.
But what do they do? Even if they encourage their family to run, that does no good to the others they leave behind. "They feel like if they leave they're giving up on their country," said Brinjikji.
A solution has been the center of discussion in Washington: if getting involved would backfire, or if a U.S. intervention is the answer. "I think the U.S. should do something to stop the mascaraing of the people," said Al-Kali.
"The U.S. has a potential to save millions of lives," said Brinjikji. The big question, is violence the answer to ending violence? "There's been a war going on for two years. The U.S. is not starting a war, they are stopping a war. This is the only way to stop a war," said Brinjikji.
"Without the U.S, and other countries doing something, I don’t see an end to that," said Al-Kali.
Again, these are their opinions we've shared with you. As we reported last week, there have actually been protests here in Rochester against any U.S. involvement. Saturday there will be a "Pray for Peace" event at Assisi Heights in Rochester at 11:00 a.m.