Four years ago, much of Allentown’s largely Christian Syrian community opposed President Barack Obama’s threatened missile attack to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime for using chemical weapons on its own people.
They feel the same way about the attack Donald Trump launched Thursday night, people interviewed Friday suggest.
The U.S. is not the world’s policeman and has no right to insert itself, uninvited, into Syria’s internal affairs, said the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh, pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, which is the cultural center of Allentown’s Syrian Christian community.
“His action is not going to strengthen the Syrian government, which is protecting the Christians,” Sabbagh said. “It will strengthen ISIS, which is killing the Christians.” And not just Christians, Sabbagh added, but nonradicalized Muslims in Syria.
Sabbagh said he believes the Assad government’s explanation that the poisonous gas that killed at least 86 men, women and children in rebel-controlled Idlib Province was released when its jets’ conventional missiles hit a terrorist chemical weapons stockpile.
“Syria is fighting ISIS on its own to the end,” Sabbagh said. “Russia is in Syria. Russia isn’t stupid either. They know they have the upper hand now. They would not use chemical weapons.”
Sabbagh said he voted for Trump thinking he would let the Syrian people determine their own fate, but he’s now regrets casting that ballot. In his mind, Assad is the only leader standing in the way of Islamic terror-fueled chaos in the Middle East.