Syrian Rebel to Haaretz: U.S. Mustn't Turn Syria Into Another Iraq

Days before U.S. Senate set to vote on whether to attack Syria, Obama administration releases videos of the August 21 gas attack near Damascus.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Syrian rebels do not favor an American intervention which would turn their country into another Iraq, a senior member of the Syrian National Coalition told Haaretz over the weekend.

"We don't want a single American soldier on our land," the rebel leader said, days before the U.S. Senate was due to vote on a resolution to authorize the use of military force against Syria. "It is the Syrian people that will topple [President Bashar] Assad and his regime."

"Assad's military capabilities and weapons arsenal must be harmed," added the rebel leader. "We are not able to contend with Scud missiles and Russian planes. Once the attack determines aerial and chemical supremacy, the Syrian people will surely win. This is the test of humanity versus tyranny."

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the resolution as early as Wednesday. Leaders of the House of Representatives have not yet said when they would vote beyond saying consideration of an authorization is "possible" sometime this week.

U.S. President Barack Obama prepared for a national address Tuesday night as a growing number of lawmakers, including fellow Democrats, opposed the use of force. The American public didn't yet appear persuaded by Obama's argument that action is needed to deter the future use of chemical weapons. Meanwhile, a U.S. official released a DVD compilation of videos showing victims of the August 21 attack near Damascus.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with more than two dozen European foreign ministers on Saturday, insisted that international backing to take strong action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime was growing, not receding.

The European Union endorsed a "clear and strong response" to a chemical weapons attack but didn't indicate what type of response they were backing. It also said that evidence strongly points to the Syrian government. Still, the EU urged the U.S. to delay possible military action until UN inspectors report their findings.

A poster of Bush taking off an Obama mask during a demonstration of Assad supporters in Lebanon, September 2013.Credit: AFP

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