Local Syrians gather, call for peace, prayer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As we head into a new week, and a possible vote from Congress, members of the Syrian American community continue voicing their opposition to a potential U.S. intervention.

Hundreds of Syrians gathered Sunday for an afternoon mass at Terry Road Baptist Church, calling for peace and prayer for the country.

They've spoken out before, saying Assad wasn't responsible for this attack, and that sending American troops could lead to war.

They just want to keep their message out in the open and Sunday they thought a church mass would send the right message for peace. They also worry for their loved ones who remain in Syria.

"Our families are over there. I have grandparents over there telling us each and every day," said Judat Yazji. "We can't have this anymore."

Many prayers were said during the service as yet another calling comes for peace. Local Syrians don't believe the Assad regime was behind last month's chemical attack. They're convinced that other Syrians oppose a U.S. strike and that the rebels are the ones responsible.

Others say they need to see proof.

"At least we have to wait for the UN inspectors to give the reports," said Simon Barsoun. "We can't just assume the Syrian government exuded these attacks."

What they want to find is a solution to the problems facing Syria. One that doesn't include U.S. intervention.

Another two dozen people gathered Sunday night at the Salaam Club on the Southside to see their friends and family off to Washington, D.C. to join hundreds that are protesting the president's proposed military strike.

Some that gathered were native Syrians, other were not, but the group stood together singing patriotic songs, holding the Syrian national flag and calling for unity and peace.

"Obama may actually see us face to face," said protestor Diana Chaha. "He might actually see how many people are going there and how many people are willing to do anything they can to make peace in our country."

The group said they don't believe the Assad regime was behind last month's chemical attack, and remain convinced, rather, that rebels are responsible for the attack.

They believe the U.S. can channel its efforts in a more diplomatic, peaceful and protective way.

"War is not going to solve anything. It will only add destruction and death," said one local Syrian. "The idea of America is to coexist under Constitution and we just want the same for Syria."

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