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Protesters clash on how to restore peace in Syria

Christine Ferretti The Detroit News

Dueling views on establishing peace in war-torn Syria unfolded Friday during an emotional demonstration in Detroit’s Hart Plaza.

Dozens of Syrian Americans and advocates assembled on Jefferson to take part in what’s been a national movement to spread awareness and gain support for rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo and condemn the Syrian regime.

Rama Alhoussaini, 23, helped organize the gathering that that drew more than 100 participants. A couple dozen activists turned up to counter the message and urge the United States to cease its involvement in the conflict.

Alhoussaini, who was born in Syria and came to the United States at age 6, stressed her grave concern for the uncles, aunts and others back home.

“For so many Syrians around the world that are not in Syria, it’s something we feel daily. Not being able to do anything, it’s so frustrating,” she said. “So coming out on days like this just to show our support, it’s kind of the least that we can do.”

“Our access inside Syria is very limited. There’s only so much we can do,” she added. “This is a call on the international community to show them the suffering. To show them we cannot remain silent any longer. This has been happening since 2011.”

A recent spate of violence in Aleppo left nearly 300 people dead. Hospitals and civilian areas in the divided city have come under attack from government warplanes, as well as rebel shelling.

But others, including Joseph Mchahwar, 19, of Redford Township contend that the United States has prolonged the unrest and should allow the Syrian government to resolve the issues on its own.

“The solution is that the United States and its allies leave Syria,” said Mchahwar, a member of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together. “We need to let the Syrian government handle the situation.”

Earlier this week, U.S. and Russia officials said they persuaded Syria’s government and moderate rebels to extend the country’s truce to the Aleppo, although sporadic clashes continue, U.S. have officials.

Several people were killed on Wednesday in renewed shelling by Syrian rebels of government-held areas in Aleppo, state media and opposition activists reported.

The violence in Syria’s largest city has continued for almost two weeks despite intense diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire.

Chadi Zaza, of Bloomfield Hills came to Michigan from Damascus in 2009 and says the rally is part of a global effort to stop aggresive action in Syria.

“We need the American people to raise awareness,” said Zaza, 42. “This should end. It started five years ago. The blood should stop.”

cferretti@detroitnews.com

The Associated Press contributed