Syrians Divided on Western Intervention
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When Western military strikes on Syria appeared imminent earlier in September, opinion in the opposition-controlled town of Salqeen ranged between unconditional support for action to fears that it would achieve nothing.
The Damascus Bureau conducted a straw poll among participants into a demonstration against President Bashar al-Assad held on September 13. At that point, the international plan to remove the government’s chemical weapons, following the devastative attack on civilians in Ghouta on August 21, had not yet been agreed.
Most of those interviewed in the video wanted air strikes, believing they would damage the capacity of the government armed forces generally, not just chemical weapons facilities.
“I am in favour of a US military strike. Any US strike would weaken Assad’s army – its tanks and armoured vehicles,” one man said.
Another hoped that diplomatic pressure would bring Assad to his senses, saying, “I support a diplomatic solution if at a certain point it results in putting an end to the bloodshed and destruction.”
A third man doubted that government pledges to eliminate chemical weapons would work.
“If Assad accepts [an internationally-brokered deal] with the United States, and then there was a chemical strike against the Syrian people, the rebels would be accused of standing behind it,” he said. “Assad would have a pretext and say, ‘I handed my chemical weapons over to the United States’.”
Issam Abdel Hamid reports for the Damascus Bureau, an IWPR project for Syria.