Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City Syrians express anger, despair at lack of action

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FRUSTRATION and anger, underlined with a complete and utter despair that appear to have no end in sight.

Those were the many reactions from Ameen and Fatima Aljundi after they watched U.S. President Barack Obama outline his position on chemical weapons in the conflict in Syria to an international audience Tuesday night.

The couple, two of the approximately 200 Syrians living in Winnipeg, focused on their television set with great personal interest, wondering if the brutal 21/2-year fight between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel resistance was any closer to ending than it was 24 hours ago.

"So the gas is the only problem? It's not. Assad has been killing everybody using all kinds of different bombs," Ameen Aljundi said. "But because (the bombs) aren't producing gas and killing people that way it doesn't matter? It's not OK to kill with something that clean. It is just nonsense."

Aljundi, who came to Canada four years ago from Dubai -- after his own parents fled the Syrian city of Hama during an attack by the Assad family about 40 years ago -- was visibly frustrated with what he heard from Obama Tuesday. The pharmacist was hoping for a direct military action against the Syrian regime by the U.S. and an end to the suffering in his native country.

Instead, he watched Obama tells Syrians to wait a little longer, while a Russian plan to secure the chemical weapons from the Syrian military diplomatically runs its course. Only if that doesn't produce change will military action come, Obama told the world.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Aljundi, who moved to Winnipeg 18 months ago. "We know Assad's regime is in its final stages. We know he's desperate. This is the time for a real (military) hit."

When asked if he was hoping for more from Obama, he didn't hold back in his answer. "Of course," Aljundi said, the anger and frustration losing steam in his tone. "The fact we're just going to wait longer -- ask the parents of the families who are there if they want to wait. Of course, man, just help us. Get us out of here."

Syrian human rights groups report more than 25 chemical weapons attacks by Assad in the Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Ghouta and Damascus regions of the Middle Eastern country. The latest attack was believed to be last month, when the chemical agent sarin, a deadly nerve gas, was used on rebels and civilians in an area east of Damascus on Aug. 21.

Approximately 1,400 Syrian people some children and infants have been killed by chemical attacks ordered by Assad over the last 30 months.

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 A3

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