Reporter Recounts Threats From Syrian Officials05:56
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In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises from buildings due to heavy artillery shelling in Barzeh, a district of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (Shaam News Network via AP video)
In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises from buildings due to heavy artillery shelling in Barzeh, a district of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (Shaam News Network via AP video)

As diplomacy takes center stage in Syria crisis, Here & Now gets a report from Wall Street Journal reporter Sam Dagher in Syria's capital Damascus, on what officials there are saying and the mood in the city.

Dagher says the announcement from the regime today, that it would turn over its chemical weapons to the international community, is problematic because the regime has not yet even acknowledged that it has chemical weapons, and officials offered no details about how they would comply.

"I think what motivates the regime mainly at this point is to delay or hopefully neutralize any U.S. military action and obviously to buy time and do what they do best here: to maneuver, to exploit the rifts and the discord on the world scene," Dagher said.

Initially, when a U.S military strike seemed imminent, Dagher said, Syrians were preparing by stocking up on food and other essentials. But now "people are kind of moving on with their lives at this point, and kind of not thinking about it as much," he said.

However, Syrians in Damascus who oppose the regime have "given up entirely on U.S. action," he said, and many believe that the United States is "in cahoots with the regime."

Dagher says that Syrian officials he has spoken to threaten that they would retaliate if the United States launched a strike against the Syrian regime.

A senior member of the Syrian parliament told Dagher that Hezbollah would attack Israel if the United States takes military action in Syria, and that "Hezbollah and the Syrian Army were one body."

Additionally, the deputy foreign minister of Syria told Dagher that neighbors who might assist the United States in strikes, such as Turkey and Jordan, would also be attacked by Syria.

Guest

  • Sam Dagher, Middle East correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, in Damascus. He tweets @samdagher.

Articles By Sam Dagher

This segment aired on September 10, 2013.

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