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Menendez and Prospect Mayor Respond to American Policy Shift on Syria

6-14-13

By Brenda Flanagan
NJ Today

“Every single Syrian that you will meet has a story of someone who’s been injured, or killed,” said Mohamed Khairullah, Mayor of Prospect Park.

Khairullah has deep family roots in Syria. He visits the war-torn country often, with medicine and food., and he welcomes the Obama administration’s policy shift to arm beleaguered rebels in their revolt against President Bashar Al-Assad.

He said, “The American public doesn’t want to see boots on the ground, but I think we could definitely help them make gains on the ground.”

United Nations fact-finders report the Syrian conflict’s killing 5,000 people a month, mostly civilians. President Obama says Assad crossed the so-called “red line” by using chemical weapons against his own citizens.

The administration’s goal is to give the rebels a fighting chance, some leverage to force Assad to negotiate. The rebels want anti-aircraft weapons, a defense against Assad’s well-equipped Air Force.

“Assad will never negotiate unless the balance is changed.,” according to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. “This is not about boots or troops on the ground, but it is about allowing those who are fighting for their freedom, who share our values to have the wherewithal to do so.”

To level the playing field, Menendez is committed to giving the President options, especially with Assad massing troops for a renewed assault on Aleppo.

“Having strikes against the airfields, where in fact Assad’s airplanes could not take off, would seriously help the rebels because, if you’re being bombed from the air and bombed by artillery against what
in essence is a pea-shooter, you’re not gonna win that fight,” Menendez said.

He adds that a no-fly zone is possible…

“Is it a lot harder than Libya? Yes. But can the international community come along together to do that? They have the possibility to do it. They just have to have the effort.”

As for the mayor of Prospect Park, Khairullah plans to fly back to Syria next month again, with more food and medicine.