Local Reaction to U.S. Surveillance Flights in Syria

Updated: 08/26/2014 6:59 PM
Created: 08/26/2014 6:57 PM
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- The Pentagon says the only way to fully address the violence in Syria and Iraq from the Islamic State militant group is to target their home base. For now, President Obama has issued orders calling for air surveillance.

"Over the past two years, the Assad regime has completely ignored them, have not attacked any of their sites, and it has basically allowed them to flourish,” said Waleed Brinjikji, a Syrian national living in Rochester.

Brinjikji says his relatives in Syria are living in fear. He emphasized that the key is for the U.S. to get involved.

“The headquarters is in Syria because the Assad regime has given them weapons and logistics to fight against the Free Syrian army,” he explained.

But local peace advocates say U.S. military action in the Middle East has only perpetuated violence and retaliation.

“If the things you're doing are creating more terror groups, maybe stop doing them if you don't want more terror groups," said Zane Zodrow, a Rochester business owner who has created a Facebook page supporting peaceful resolutions in the Middle East.

As for the surveillance flights over Syria, political analysts say they could be the first steps towards potential U.S. air strikes.

“If intelligence reveals there's a need to, it'd be a way to really isolate where the explosions would happen, where the attack would happen," said local political analyst Shane Baker. Baker is also a teacher at Century High School in Rochester.

Waleed Brinjikji is hoping that the U.S. moves forward with possible airstrikes in northern Syria, where many of the militant group’s leaders are known to be. 

“The only reason that they haven't been stopped is because nobody has the power to stop them," said Brinjikji.

While two officials have confirmed the President’s decision to authorize surveillance flights over Syria, the White House has yet to officially comment on the decision. 

Photo: MGN