Syrians in Upstate react to US airstrikes


GREER, SC (WSPA) – Syria may be 6,000 miles away from us, but to Upstate residents who grew up there the fighting is something that torments them every day.

7News spoke with a Syrian man now living in our area who says the Trump Administration’s change of tact has given him new hope for his friends and family back home.

When it takes 16 years to get your U.S citizenship, as it did for Syrian native Ali Alkelani, you don’t take your right to free speech, for granted.

Greer resident Ali Alkelani said, “right now we have hope again, and we expect the international community to realize, it is time for something to happen, it is time for the Assad it is time to stop the killing.”

Alkelani says the U.S. airstrikes were an uplifting surprise after so many years of what he calls inaction.

“It’s really sad, and to be honest we’re still shocked the world is still allowing this to happen.”

Still allowing, he says, because he believes with President Bashar Al-Assad still in place, the Syrians will continue to suffer.

That’s a viewpoint echoed by Converse College professor Joe Dunn, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs.

“We need to get him [Assad] out of the picture or this war will go on for another 10 years,” says Dunn, “That’s what I hope. Is that’s what’s happening? I don’t know.”

Dunn says the airstrike is futile without a change in policy, but U.S congressman Trey Gowdy says it’s a powerful message to more than just Assad.

“I think it sends a signal not only just to the Middle East, but other regions of the world that we are patient, but our patience has some boundaries,” says Rep. Gowdy, “If you hurt children with chemical weapons, there’s going to be a response monitored.”

The concern now, what’s next?

Supporters of the Syrian people hope the U.S. attack is just the beginning.

Alkelani urges his fellow U.S. citizens to call upon the Trump Administration to impose a no-fly zone to stop the airstrikes on citizens.

“We need all to think that we are brothers and sisters in humanity and we need to help each other and do all we can to help the Syrian people,” says Alkelani.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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