BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Possible Syria strike prompts protest at U.S. Embassy

Members of various groups carry pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad as they protest near the U.S. embassy in Awkar against a possible US military action in Syria, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

AWKAR, Lebanon: Two hundred protesters converged on the American Embassy Friday in a rally against a possible military strike on Syria, condemning the U.S. and President Barack Obama for what they say is a broad campaign against the resistance.

“You are either with the resistance or against it,” said Ali Hasan Jaber, a protester from Lebanese University in Sidon and a youth representative in the Amal Movement. “There is no third choice. You are either with us or against us.”

Standing just outside the outer gate to the embassy in Awkar, protesters carried Syrian and Lebanese flags and portraits of embattled President Bashar Assad while shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

A Hezbollah flag was raised and quickly removed in front of the embassy gate as protesters carried written instructions not to raise party flags.

The U.S. Congress is considering a strike against Syria in retaliation for what Western governments say was a poison gas attack on civilians and opposition members in a suburb of Damascus in August.

Protesters reiterated long-standing grievances with U.S. policy in the region, saying the targeting of Syria was part of a broader plan to undermine the “axis of resistance” that includes Iran and Hezbollah.

“Syria does not stand alone,” said Mahdi Ayoub, a dentist and member of the Amal Movement. “They are digging their own graves.”

They criticized what they say is U.S. hypocrisy over chemical weapons and democratic movements in the Middle East, pointing out that America did not condemn Israeli use of white phosphorus in the assault on Gaza in 2008-2009.

Protesters also rejected what they said was fabricated evidence of chemical weapons use by Assad, saying the regime had no reason to use them when it was gaining ground against rebels.

“They don’t need to use chemicals,” Jaber said. “[Assad] is strong. Nations are standing behind him and he has confidence in his army and himself.”

“He is fighting terrorists; why would he attack his own people?”

Jaber said that terrorist groups fighting in Syria would turn their attention toward wreaking havoc in Lebanon if they succeeded against Assad, attacking all sects and factions without discrimination.

Patriotic songs praising Syria blared through loudspeakers, and protesters carried signs condemning the U.S. Others dipped their hands in red paint to denote the shedding of Syrian blood.

The protest was organized by youth groups affiliated with March 8 political parties, who say they are planning another sit-in Saturday at the embassy, as well as protests at universities.

“All the parties that stood against Israel now stand against the American enemy, which wants to assault Syria,” Jaber said.

Ayoub said a war on Syria would be the beginning of a broader attack against the resistance, and criticized Obama for planning the strike.

“We tell you that history won’t be on your side,” he said. “You will be in the dustbin of history.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 07, 2013, on page 2.

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