Syrian-Canadian welcomes U.S. attacks, but doubts it will change 'dark story'

Syrian-Canadian welcomes U.S. attacks, but doubts it will change 'dark story'

A Nova Scotia man with roots in Syria says U.S. attacks in that country send the right message but ultimately won't be much help for ordinary Syrians. 

Mohamed Masalmeh, a Syrian-Canadian living in Halifax, said he's glad the Syrian regime has been given a "slap on the hand" with the U.S. cruise missile strikes on the government-controlled Shayrat airbase.

"We know that there are ulterior purposes for this," said Masalmeh, a father of two. "But at the same time, a lot of Syrians are glad to see that the regime got a hit at least."

'Perfect moment' for U.S. involvement

The overnight attack by the U.S. was in response to this week's chemical attack that killed more than 80 Syrian civilians. It was the first direct U.S. assault on the al-Assad government.

"To Syrian people, it doesn't make a big difference," said Masalmeh. "Syrian civilians are going to keep getting hit, they are still being killed on a daily basis. Every hour after that attack, different cities have been bombed. So, that didn't make a difference to Syrian people on the ground."

Masalmeh said his family has lost about 300 people in the last six years in Syria. Most of those killed have been children and elderly people.

He said it's "the perfect moment" for U.S. action.

"No one in the international community has ever stood up against that regime — it felt like everybody has just had it for the Syrian people and nobody is standing up for them," said Masalmeh.

"We just hope that it plays for our benefit, plays for the Syrian benefit."

Rally planned for Sunday in Halifax

However, Masalmeh said he does not think the U.S. attack will change much in a country where ordinary people struggle just to survive. 

"I think it's only going to change who are the players in that field. Russia used to have a monopoly over any decisions made in Syria, but now the U.S. has showed that they're going to come and play along."

He said it's too late to "wish for a good, happy ending for this ugly, dark story," but he hopes the violence stops soon. 

He and other concerned citizens will hold a demonstration in Victoria Park in Halifax on Sunday.