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Portlanders protest possible Syria strike

by: KOIN 6 NEWS - Portlanders demonstrated against a possible U.S. strike against Syria on Saturday.Shortly after President Obama said he wants congressional approval before launching any military action against Syria because the Assad regime used chemical weapons against his own people, hundreds of people in Portland marched through the downtown streets in protest.

The protesters held signs, chanted and met for a rally at Director Park on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re out here today as concerned citizens to let our government that the unruly violent behavior and conflict management techniques they are proposing are unacceptable,” said Erin Niemela of the Portland Oregon War Resistance.

The chemical weapons attack, the president said, killed at least 1,400 people, including children.

But the Portland protesters are worried a US strike would only fuel the fire.

“Bombing never solves anything,” Shamus Cook told KOIN 6 News. “Haven’t we learned anything from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya?”

The Syrian-American group of Portland was among the protesters. They do not believe Bashar Al-Assad was behind the chemical attack.

“It’s very hard to believe that someone as smart as President Bashar would do something that doesn’t make sense,” said Steve Wehbey, the president of the Syrian-American Club. “I still support (Assad) fully. The local Syrian community I’m a part of still supports him.”

Others are worried Obama spoke too soon, since UN chemical weapons experts are still investigating.

Protesters who spoke with KOIN 6 News said they’re appalled by the violence but want to see a peaceful end.

“We realize that violence is never the answer and there are so many other options,” Niemela said.