Locals return from Washington D.C. after protesting strike on Syria

By Ashley Harding - Reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two dozen local Syrian-Americans are on their way back to Jacksonville after joining hundreds from across the U.S. in the nation's Capitol.

The group left late Sunday night in hopes of putting pressure on Congress to vote "no" to President Barack Obama's proposed military strike.

On Monday morning, a TV interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hit the airwaves. Assad warned against possible repercussions from Hezbollah or other countries like Iran should the U.S. strike.

The group of Jacksonville residents were among about 1,500 people who protested Monday in Washington, D.C. As it turns out, many were from Florida, too, including Miami, Orlando and Tampa.

One woman making the trip back said she feels like her voice was heard.

"It was one of the happiest days of my life because I feel the war in Syria is based on injustice and it's unfair," said Mary Zaizan, a Syrian-American who drove to protest in Washington. "It's great to feel like our voice was heard."

The protesters say the U.S. should take al-Assad's warning seriously.

"We don't want to see that. We don't want either side to be hurt," Zaizan said. "We care about U.S. people as well. There's no need for this war. There's no need for more blood."

Father Mouris Amsih agrees. He is head of one of Jacksonville's large Syrian churches. He, too, hopes for no strike and asks that there be a compromise among the nations.

"We pray for all the leaders of the world just to hold the sign of peace, not the sign of hate, not the sign of killing each other," Amsih said.

"I hope Congress will vote 'no' to Syria. We pray for that," Zaizan said.

Local representatives have weighed in on how they will vote.

Sen. Marco Rubio, along with Reps. Ted Yoho, Ron DeSantis and Ander Crenshaw, all Republicans, said they will vote no.

Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Corrine Brown, both Democrats, said they will vote yes.

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