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Syrian people fight for survival as multiple powers face off

Syrians have continued to flee to neighboring countries and Europe as conflict in their country has intensified, and in Lebanon, nearly one in four people is a Syrian migrant. Meanwhile, pro-Assad leaders have condemned the coordinated strikes on Syria, with Hezbollah calling them an “aggression.” NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jane Ferguson joins Hari Sreenivasan from Beirut for more reaction from the Middle East.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jane Ferguson joins us now via Skype from Beirut to discuss the reaction in the Middle East. So Jane, we’ve had some time for this to settle. What’s the reaction been here?

  • JANE FERGUSON:

    Hari, in Lebanon we’ve seen condemnation of the attack from the president, Michel Aoun. He is a Christian who is allied with Hezbollah. Now he himself has said that the missile strikes will impede all ongoing attempts to end the suffering of the Syrian people. Unsurprisingly, we’ve also seen condemnation coming from Hezbollah themselves calling this a “trilateral treacherous American, British, French aggression against Syria.” Now those of course are voices from the very much pro-Assad side of things here. I think anybody who is anti-Assad or pro-opposition is not exactly celebrating in the streets here, as we have seen in Damascus for those who are backing the government there they’d be celebrating but those who are anti-Assad or are likely to see this as something that’s not necessarily going to change the course of the war, it won’t really change Assad’s ability to kill his own people and attack them with the conventional weapons, which have been by and large the most common way of killing people in Syria to date.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    There are so many different actors inside Syria at the moment — the entire neighborhood seems to be involved either directly or as proxies?

  • JANE FERGUSON:

    Certainly. This is a multilayered war and of course, what was so concerning and what everyone was very worried about in the run up to the strikes was that there could be any possible clashes between, direct clashes between America and Russia. This has been the kind of war that has turned into various proxy wars for some time. Now you have the Turks in the north who are basically fighting Kurds in there. You also have 2,000 American troops inside Syria right now fighting ISIS. You have, of course, the Russians there, Hezbollah and Iran. And we also have Israel watching very anxiously Iran’s growing position in Syria and any attempts to entrench their position in there. And what was lost actually in the news yesterday was that the Israelis made an announcement that the drone that they shot down over their own territory back in February that they say was an Iranian drone. Yesterday, they actually said that it was armed that it had explosives attached and that they believe it was intended to attack them.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And finally, let’s not forget the people involved the displacement of Syrians from this civil war has had a ripple effect throughout the Middle East.

  • JANE FERGUSON:

    Hugely, of course, here in Lebanon now one in four people is a Syrian and you see that across in other areas like Jordan and Turkey and of course the migration of people towards Europe. Now, when we talk Hari about all of these proxy wars we’re talking about American interests in Syria, Russian interests, Turkish interests. There never seems to be anybody who’s really fighting on the side of the Syrian people and that is the great tragedy of this war and if the war continues the way it’s going then those people are going to continue to suffer.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. There’s NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jane Ferguson joining us via Skype from Beirut tonight. Thanks so much.

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