A San Diego man who describes himself as a former victim of the violence in Syria wants to see the United States intervene before it’s too late.
In Washington, D.C., Congressional leaders are debating whether to approve President Barack Obama's request for U.S. military action that he has said would be of “limited duration and scope” against the Syrian regime, led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as a reaction to an alleged chemical attack that killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children.
Thousands of miles away in San Diego, Omar is watching and hopeful to see Congress approve the president's request.
Omar, who has asked NBC 7 not to use his last name, said he was tortured for years at the hands of the Syrian government. He believes U.S. involvement could stop that from happening to more people.
"I get lucky I still alive,” Omar told NBC 7. “They tried to kill me many times."
He says under the first Assad regime, he spent 13 years in and out of Syrian prisons being tortured almost daily, practices he believes continue today.
"They do everything and I can't talk because it make me cry,” he said.
Abed Kaddo, President of the San Diego Syrian American Council, called what’s happening in Syria a tragedy that has been going on too long.
"The question to ask is are we going to wait until it's a million people lost," Kaddo said. "It's a moral obligation that we have to do something about it."
President Obama said Wednesday the credibility of the international community and Congress is on the line in the debate over how to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could vote on authorizing the use of force as early as Wednesday, the first in a series of votes as the president's request makes its way through Senate and House committees before coming before the two chambers for a final vote.
Omar and Abed hope the force intervention is limited, taking out airport runways and missile bases for example.
USD Professor Thomas Reifer believes the risk of acting now far outweighs the risk to wait and negotiate.
“Anyone that tells you they know it's going to be limited is either delusional or lying," Reifer said.
He has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and says the impacts of using force are unpredictable and without borders.
“Going to a military strike opens up a Pandora's box and possibly puts us into a military conflict with Iran and possibly drags Israel in," Reifer said.
House Speaker Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House and declared that the U.S. has "enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it's necessary."
Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, also backed action. But he acknowledged the split positions among both parties and said it was up to Obama to "make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein released this statement on Syria Friday, “I agree with Secretary Kerry that the world cannot let such a heinous attack pass without a meaningful response, and I hope the international community will take appropriate action.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, issued a statement outlining his thoughts on U.S. intervention, “To earn my vote of support for limited military intervention, President Obama must present a clear plan focused on effective humanitarian intervention or our national security interests.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, will try to make that argument in a public hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. They and other senior administration officials also will provide classified briefings to the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees.