Possible US-led attack on Syria sparks rallies

HOUSTON (AP) - Protesters around
the world took to the streets
Saturday to protest for and against
a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria
as President Barack Obama
announced he would seek
congressional approval for such a
move.
Obama said the United States
should take action against Syria to
punish it for what it says was a
deadly chemical attack that killed
more than 1,400 people launched
by Syrian President Bashar Assad
this month, but he wants Congress
to debate the issue and take a
vote. Obama has said any possible
strike would be limited.
In Houston, home to a large
population of Syrian-Americans,
about 100 people lined up on
opposite sides of a street in an
upscale neighborhood to express
opposing views on a possible U.S.
attack.
"We want any kind of action. The
world has stood silently and it's
been too long. Something needs to
be done," said Tamer Barazi, a 23-
year-old civil engineer who carried
a Syrian flag and a sign stating
"Syrian Americans for peace,
democracy and freedom in Syria."
Standing across the street in
Houston's sweltering heat were
those opposing U.S. intervention,
outnumbering the supporters of an
intervention. Some carried signs
stating "We Don't Want Obama's
War" and "Hands Off Syria."
"How would you like another
country to decide who is going to
be the president of the United
States?" asked 53-year-old Hisam
Saker, a Syrian-American property
manager who has lived in Houston
for 33 years.
In Washington, as Obama
addressed the nation from the Rose
Garden, crowds of anti-war
demonstrators gathered outside the
White House. "Obama, hands off
Syria" shouted the anti-war
demonstrators, who carried yellow
signs reading "No War On Syria."
Across the street, Syrians and
Syrian Americans who support U.S.
action waved flags from their
country and shouted for Assad's
ouster.
"The conflict's been going on for,
what, almost 2 years now. Estimates
are 100,000 Syrian civilians have
been killed and all of a sudden the
U.S. government has manufactured
the excuse of the use of chemical
weapons in Syria to use that excuse
to intervene in Syria," said Tristan
Brosnan, 25, of Washington.
In London, more than 1,000
protesters carrying Syrian flags and
placards marched to Downing Street
and rallied in Trafalgar Square.
And about 700 people turned out
for an anti-war demonstration in
Frankfurt, Germany, police said.
Organizers said only a "sovereign,
independent Syria free of foreign
interference" would make it
possible for the Syrian people to
shape the country's future.
At a protest organized by left-wing
opposition parties in Amman,
Jordan, Kawthar Arrar described any
military intervention as "an
aggression on the whole Arab
world." The protesters gathered
outside the U.S. embassy, chanting
slogans and setting fire to American
and Israeli flags.
U.N. inspectors left Syria on
Saturday after a four-day, on-site
investigation in the area where the
chemical attack is suspected.
The protesters in London hailed
Thursday's U.K. parliament vote
against British participation as a
victory.
"Chemical weapons are terrible
weapons, but when you think of all
the thousands of people that have
been killed by British and American
troops in Afghanistan and Iraq you
realize that it isn't true that
another war would solve the
problem," former Labour Party
lawmaker Tony Benn told the
protesters.