Citizens call for peace
About 75 people took to the corners of Indian Hill and Foothill Boulevards on Monday night, joining in with thousands from across the nation broadcasting a singular message to the US government: Do not use military force in Syria.
The local vigil was one of hundreds of similar events nationwide, organized as part of a “national day of action” led by MoveOn.org and several other progressive action groups.
An estimated 2 million Syrians have fled to surrounding countries over the past couple years as the government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, began cracking down on anti-government uprisings sweeping the country. The protests are part of a bigger movement throughout the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring, to stop government repression.
Government-led attacks have included driving tanks into Syrian cities and opening fire on residents. While the government continues its attacks, thousands of soldiers have defected to begin their own campaign against the present government, calling themselves the Free Syrian Army. The resulting clash has claimed the lives of thousands of Syrians—both citizens and combatants—a number that continues to rise.
A recent chemical attack, which some speculate to have been authorized by President al-Assad, has led the United States and allies to consider military intervention in Syria. President al-Assad insists the attack is the doing of rebels with ties to al-Qaeda. President Barack Obama is expected to give a national address on the matter tonight and Congress is expected to vote on a resolution authorizing military action this week.
Proponents of military intervention say the use of chemical weapons represents a crossing-of-the-line that demands a decisive international response. Many American citizens, however, have been vocal about their belief that the United States should not involve itself in Syria. According to an international poll released by CNN/ORC, “a strong majority” remains against US military involvement in the Syrian civil war. Such opposition is exacerbated by the fact the United States is still entangled in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claremont residents joined with others on Monday in urging their local Congressional representatives to vote against military action.