Syria crisis: Dueling protests held outside White House

Near the White House Saturday. Photo: Bryan Allman/WJLA

WASHINGTON (AP/WJLA) - Demonstrators gathered outside the White House Saturday as President Barack Obama said he'll seek congressional authorization for the use of force in Syria.

Anti-war protesters congregated outside the White House fence, holding yellow signs and chanting slogans against military intervention.

Syrian-Americans assembled nearby to demand U.S. action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"We don't want no more deaths, no more bloodshed," said one protester.

Military action would be in response to a chemical weapons attack the U.S. says Bashad's government carried out against civilians.

"I think it could potentially be the beginning of WWIII," says Donna Plamondon of Baltimore.

“If we bomb Syria, you could have actions from Iran, you could have actions from Israel, from Russia. You could have global trade come to [a] standstill,” says Ryan Sonnenberg of Frederick.

Roman Kishi, a Syrian-American doctor in northern Virginia, said the only available option is to take out Assad. He says now is the right time.

“We see bodies mutilated, brutally mutilated,” says Obadah, a Syrian immigrant. “Two-year-old babies, pregnant moms. Everybody’s being killed by the Assad regime.”

Anti-war protester Tristan Brosnan disagreed, saying the civil war had been going on for a while and there was no reason for the U.S. to change course.

Among those opposing intervention were supporters of Assad.

“He has to do what he has to do. Take out all the fanatics that destroy our country,” says Amal Esmail, a Syrian immigrant.

But there are genuine fears of U.S. involvement with an uncertain outcome.

“I don’t see any improvement in the political situation by getting involved in another war over there,” says John Zangas, a former U.S. Marine.

Still, amid the voice of dissent are those who say it is time for the U.S. to act.

“I think the gas attacks cross the line,” Larry Murphy says. “Something needs to be done.”

From one Syrian man, a desperate plea.

“Everybody that’s holding a gun needs to drop the gun down and say let’s talk. Let’s stop killing each other.”