Residents originally from Syria weigh in on missile strikes - WSMV News 4

Residents originally from Syria weigh in on missile strikes

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The U.S. launched missile strikes on a Syrian airfield Thursday night. (WSMV) The U.S. launched missile strikes on a Syrian airfield Thursday night. (WSMV)

Following the U.S.-led missile strikes on a Syrian airfield Thursday night, some Middle Tennesseans originally from Syria are reacting.

"This is my brother and his family, his children," said Dr. Saleh Sbenaty, thumbing through some pictures. "Obviously, we can not talk freely on the phone, because we have a saying in Syria, 'the walls have ears.'"

Speaking from his office at MTSU, Sbenaty said he hasn't seen his family in Syria in person for 29 years.

"They have children I have not even seen," he said, unfolding a piece of paper. "This is actually a letter from my mom. It says, 'Kisses and greeting to you all. Your brother and sister send their greeting to you and all of your family.'"

Sbenaty said he still keeps in contact with those family members by phone, and Friday was an important day to reach out.

This week, U.S. officials claimed Syria's regime was responsible for a chemical attack that killed more than 100 people.

"We have people right here in Murfreesboro who lost their relatives," Sbenaty said.

Abdou Kittih also grew up in Syria and said a longtime friend died in that chemical attack.

"It almost feels like we're numb, but we're not," he said. "We just don't know what to do with our feelings anymore."

Sbenaty and Kittih believe the U.S. missile strike targeting a Syrian airfield Thursday was needed.

"The message we sent yesterday will tell Assad this is not acceptable," Kittih said. "My hope is the destruction of his airbase will limit his ability to kill the masses. Assad and his regime are the root of the problem."

"I'm hoping that everybody would be forced to come to a negotiation table and forced to find a peaceful and satisfactory end to this conflict," Sbenaty added.

Kittih said he does worry about the possibility of escalation.

"If we are to move to the next step, it has to be with our allies, it has to be with Congress approval," he said. "I believe it should not on any level involve ground troops. There is no ideal solution today. There is no clear-cut way to solve this issue. War is not going to solve it. It's going to make it worse."

"I hope to see a free Syria very soon," Sbenaty said.

Some other Murfreesboro residents held a rally at the Rutherford County courthouse Friday night. The rally was for those who believe the missile strikes will only increase the suffering of the Syrian people. Organizers of the rally said they stand in opposition to any foreign military intervention.

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