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Politics / Issues

Some Syrian-Americans Struggle with the Prospect of Bombing

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WUSF Public Media

There’s ambivalence among some young Syrian-Americans over the possibility of the U.S. bombing targets inside Syria.

“I’m a Syrian-American who has never been to her home country of Syria, but I identify very strongly with my people there,” said Maryam Saleh, a recent University of South Florida graduate and WUSF News intern.

Saleh is struggling with the idea of having her country of birth, the United States, bomb the country of her ancestry, Syria.

“On the one hand, yes, we want to see Assad go away. We want to see force used against him,” Saleh said. “But at the same time, nobody wants to see their country be bombed and nobody wants somebody to wage war on their country no matter who the target is. You know. It’s emotional.”

Saleh co-produced the WUSF Florida Matters show in April featuring first-hand accounts of the Syrian refugee camps from two USF students who spent their spring break bringing there.

American-born Noor Shakfeh made the trek to Syria in March with her brother to bring aid to the refugee camps.

“You see people leaving their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. You see children with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). You see that it’s become normal in society that people have lost their parents,” Shakfeh said. “Over 100,000 people have been killed and we have six million displaced and you know 20,000 child amputees and children haven’t been to school in three years.”

She wanted to return to the camps this summer, but it was too dangerous. So, Shakfeh spent her time helping to organize an international forums on rebuilding Syria and continued to raise medication and goods for the refugees.

She too is torn over the idea of Syria being bombed by “foreign powers.”

“You want help but you don’t want a war in your own country,” Shakfeh said. “But there’s a current war in the country already and there’s already international intervention. You have Russian powers and Iran and Hezbollah propping up the Assad regime.”

Shakfeh believes that many Americans mistakenly think action in Syria would be similar to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“This is not what’s going to happen,” Shakfeh said. “The strategy the Pentagon has released is that there are less than 50 targets that they want to bomb and those are supposedly areas that have weapons like command centers for the army.”

She is ambivalent but supports a “conditional” bombing of only specific military targets anything else and she would be opposed to intervention.

Shakfeh remains optimistic and is hoping to visit Syrian in December along with a production crew to make a documentary about the humanitarian crisis with the rising number of refugees.