NE Ohio Syrian-Americans react to US missile strikes in Syria

CLEVELAND – Responding to the horrific images after a chemical attack on the people of Syria, the United States and its allies launched a missile attack Friday night.

“We deployed 105 weapons against three targets that will significantly impact the Syrian regime’s ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Director of the Joint Staff during a Pentagon Press Conference Saturday.

While the conflict has been ongoing since 2011 on the other side of the globe, there are strong opinions in the Syrian-American community in Northeast Ohio.

“Our president was misled by faulty intelligence by our country,” said American-born Syrian and Cleveland Businessman Tony George.

“President Bashar al-Assad would never use chemical weapons on his own people. Not at this point in a civil war and bring the wrath of the whole world on his back,” George said.

But on the other side is Dr. Ahmad Banna.

“I was grateful that we can get rid of this major disaster,” Dr. Banna said. Banna was born in Syria and is the President of the MACE Islamic Center. Banna says the United States should have gone further with the strikes.

“We went there to eliminate one thing but the major root problem is still there. The government is not elected by the people, they are not democratic process…not only this, they are killing their own people and the whole international community knows about it,” Banna said.

But George says a new government will risk religious freedom in Syria.

“My biggest concern for the Christian community in Syria is if something happens to President Bashar al-Assad. If something happens to President Bashar al-Assad the Christians will get slaughtered,” George said.

Dr. Banna says if the situation continues, there won’t be anything left of his home country.

“I lived there for 24 years before I moved in here so it’s really hard to hear this every day that people are suffering there just because the government doesn’t want to change,” Banna said.

President Bashar al-Assad has been in power in Syria since 2000. The civil war began in 2011 and since then more than five million people have fled the country.

**More on Syria, here**