Airstrikes alarm local Syrian American couple

A local couple from Syria has been watching and reading headlines from overseas after the military launch led by the U.S. targeting chemical weapons.

Ibrahim Ahmad was born in Syria and moved to the U.S. almost 25 years ago. The doctor travels at least twice a year back to his home country.

“It just hurt. This is not the Syria that I was born and raised in,” he said.

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Ahmad was just in Syria in December.

The civil war and airstrikes are personal for him.

“I don’t like that we have been rushing to conclusion and not giving time to due diligence, as being a doctor I don’t rush to start any medication before I investigate it well,” he said.

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“I still can’t comprehend that decision,” said his wife, Beth Salama, also a Syrian-American. “What makes it even worse, we feel like we are helpless and we don’t like that feeling.”

Ahmad, of Washington Twp. said he is worried about the toll the war has taken on his home country.

“They call it collateral damage now and I’m not going to be able to be used to this term because those are people — they’re not numbers.”

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President Trump in announcing the action Friday night said it would be a “sustained response” until the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stops use of chemical weapons. The attacks were in conjunction with U.S. allies in France and the United Kingdom.

Ahmad said he wants the fighting to stop on all sides.

“I hope that somebody in the (Trump) Administration would start negotiating and talking in a constructive and balanced way.”

Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who is at the Ohio State University’s Center for International Security Studies, said the mission in Syria accomplished what it needed to.

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“You want the strike to be painful enough that Assad gets the message and ceases use of those weapons, but not so damaging that it would incite (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to escalate conflict,” he said.

Mansoor said he believes the attack is a one-time thing and does not believe it will lead to a long ground war.

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