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Valley Syrian-American community divided on potential military action

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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

Syrian-Americans across the country are offering a range of opinions on whether Congress should or should not authorize a military strike against Syria.

In Arizona, a pair of Valley doctors are appealing to Congress to hit the green-light on a strike sooner than later.

"I could have died," Dr. Zaki Lababidi said. 

Lababidi, a Valley cardiologist, emigrated from Syria to escape hostilities in the 1980s.

"[The shooter] was not aiming at anything, just shooting at the car," he recalled.

Lababidi has family and friends still in Syria and says violence happens every day in the midst of a Syrian civil war that began in 2011. However, if the Bashar Assad regime is using chemical weapons, Lababidi says that requires military intervention.

"Nothing will stop this mad dictator, this butcher," he said. "Nothing will stop this butcher except force."

Another Valley doctor with close ties to Syria is making a similar case, demanding fast action from the United States Congress to take out Assad's regime.

"The country is dying," Dr. Zudhi Jasser said of Syria. "The war will not end until one side has lost its human assets."

Jasser, a Valley doctor and the founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, says the majority of Syria's 22 million people are fearing for their lives and news of another alleged chemical attack. Jasser says America has very few options but to respond with force.

"I do not take sending our sons and daughters into war very easily," Jasser said. "In my understanding of Syria and what my father and grandfather fought for and why they came to the United States, it has been the right time to act."

Both Jasser and Lababidi say the United States and its allies should have acted much earlier, however, the potential for military intervention has sparked anti-war demonstrations across the world, including one in Tempe over the weekend.

The Syrian-American community remains mixed on whether Congress should authorize a military strike. Many worry Western intervention would worsen the chaos in an already unstable Middle East but with more clarity on the president's intent to strike, military intervention may be inevitable.

"If the Congress were to reject a resolution like this after the president of the United States has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic," Arizona Sen. John McCain said. "The credibility of this country with friends and adversaries alike would be shredded."

Lababidi echoed the viewpoint of McCain; saying if Congress is to reject a military strike, it sends a mixed message to other world leaders and powers.

"When the United States say chemical weapons is a red line, we mean it. When the United States tells Iran you cannot have a nuclear weapon, we mean it," he said.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

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