Holding signs and chanting anti-war slogans, a local group held a gathering Saturday in solidarity with worldwide calls for peace on the heels of President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will seek approval from Congress before launching any military action against the Syrian regime for allegedly using chemical weapons against its people.
Saturday morning, President Obama held a press conference detailing plans for military action by the U.S. in Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack that killed 1,429 people which may have been perpetrated by the Syrian regime under the leadership of Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad.
At noon, shortly after the President finished his speech, locals held a gathering in Balboa Park asking the U.S. government to halt any proposed military action.
The event was held in solidarity with “No War With Syria,” a worldwide peace movement asking for people to protest, rally and mobilize to stop any military actions in Syria by the U.S.
“No War With Syria” supporters said they “denounce the United States Government’s complete disregard for the will of the American people as reflected in the government’s decision to start yet another war.”
"I'm not sure that the consequences of taking action would be a lot different from not taking action, especially this late in the game," said supporter, Robert Eliason.
The activists pointed to the recent recession and “perpetual wars” as two reasons why the U.S. shouldn’t allocate resources to a Syrian intervention, adding that the move will only further destabilize the Middle East.
In a media release, the group said it “recognizes that peace cannot be reached through bombs, drone attacks, and murder; peace is created through compassion and forgiveness, which must come from within.”
Across the nation, conclusions on whether the U.S. should enter the Syrian conflict are mixed. Even at the gathering differing views were represented.
"If we were in the same predicament," said Yvette Richard, "wouldn't we want another country to come to our aid?"
Echoing her message were members of the Syrian-American Council who held a rally on Friday in downtown San Diego.
Chanting phrases such as “Free, Free Syria,” members of the Syrian-American Council said they wanted to call attention to the idea that a U.S. intervention would be welcomed by the Syrian people who were devastated by a chemical attack which killed thousands, including hundreds of children.
During his statement, Obama condemned Syrian President Assad's regime, describing the alleged chemical attack as "an assault on human dignity" that "presents a serious danger to our national security."
He added that any U.S. action in Syria would be of “limited duration and scope” and would not involve putting any boots on the ground.
President Obama also announced that he would seek approval from Congress before launching any military action in Syria.
"Over the last several days, we have heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard," Obama said. "I absolutely agree."
East County congressman, Rep. Duncan Hunter, who just returned from a visit to the Syrian border on Tuesday, released a statement to NBC 7 about the decision to involve Congress in the debate over Syrian intervention.
Through a spokesman Hunter said, "Given the situation at this time, the only responsible decision for the President was to request Congress make a decision on whether to authorize military action. In the coming days, Congress will review the same classified information the President has seen and both the House and Senate will be in a better position to make a judgment based on the facts."
Congress is set to return from a five-week recess on Monday, Sept. 9. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said that the upper chamber would begin hearings on the issue next week, ahead of what he pledged would be a vote no later than the week of Sept. 9th.
Meanwhile, as the nation debates its involvement in Syria, violence in the war-torn country continues.
Just as President Obama wrapped up his speech and “No War With Syria” supporters gathered, Syrian army forces resumed their shelling of rebel-held Damascus suburbs, which had halted for several hours prior.