Local Syrian-Americans are feeling everything from hope to skepticism concerning President Barack Obama's authorization of military aid to Syrian rebels after U.S. officials said Bashar al-Assad's regime crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons on its own people.
Many Syrian-Americans have long been calling for greater U.S. intervention in the conflict, which began with a popular uprising in March 2011 and evolved into a bloody civil war that has reportedly killed more than 90,000 people.
U.S. officials have said the new aid would include weapons and ammunition. U.S. aid has so far been limited to providing the opposition with humanitarian aid and non-lethal assistance.
Hussam Ayloush, national chairman of the Syrian-American Council and a board member of the organization's Los Angeles chapter, said the news has brought new hope for many Syrians and Syrian-Americans.
"I've spoken to other Syrians there and there's certainly a ray of hope being felt after feeling the whole world has forgotten them as they are being slaughtered, murdered every day," he said. "They feel that maybe the world is paying attention to us."
Ayloush said he always has hope and has been inspired by the resilience of the Syrian people, who have remained committed to their freedom as they were on the first day of the revolution despite the brutality of the Assad regime.
With roughly 100,000 killed and many others missing, Ayloush said, "if they can still be hopeful, I can't but be hopeful."
But other Syrian-Americans were more skeptical. Dr. Saleh Kholaki, a Duarte-based dentist who lives in La Crescenta, said he believes the help -- if it even comes -- could be too little too late.
"In my humble opinion, I still think (military aid) is not going to happen," Kholaki, a board member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Syrian-American Council, said. "It's just statement after statement to give anesthesia or painkiller to a patient ... They should have done a no-fly zone and armed the rebels a long time ago."
Kholaki, who has relatives in Syria, said arms sent by the U.S. would probably not be as helpful as the amount of military support Russia and Iran have given to the Assad regime. And since citizens who are fleeing their homes and are being forced to leave their own cities are still being shelled and bombed from the air, Kholaki said a no-fly zone is crucial to protecting civilian lives on the ground.
"I feel hopeless and helpless. I don't know what took so long" for the U.S., Kholaki said. "Is that because we don't have oil in the region, or is it because Israel wants Assad in power?"
Israel, a close U.S. ally, has repeatedly expressed concerns that a change in regime in Syria could further harm Arab-Israeli relations and regional stability.
Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he has "considerable concerns" about the prospect of the U.S. getting further involved in the conflict. Schiff, D-Burbank, said he prefers the U.S. assist the rebels by degrading Assad's chemical weapons capacity and his ability to deliver them.
"I think providing a small amount of arms won't change the course of the conflict and may only feed the cries to do more -- to establish a no-fly zone, provide an even larger quantity of arms to what is now essentially a sectarian civil war," Schiff said. "You have Hezbollah arrayed on one side (the Assad regime), elements of al-Qaida on another. We should be very wary of entangling ourselves in this fight."
But Hanadi Alwan, a mother of four who lives in Claremont, said she was happy that the U.S. has admitted what many have suspected all along -- that the Assad regime has been using a small amount of chemical weapons on its people -- and feels it will give the U.S. more credibility to acknowledge and act against injustice. But she, too, is concerned that any weapons the U.S. will provide won't be enough to stop the bloodshed.
"We don't want arming the opposition so they can just kill each other; we want them to arm the opposition so they will be able to finish the war," she said.
Meanwhile, Alwan said she's increasingly concerned about the safety of her own daughter Leila, 23, who is in a village in northwestern Syria volunteering to help displaced children.
"I feel like it's going to get uglier," she said. "Now the Assad side, they're going to be more brutal to finish the war as soon as possible and the opposition will be stronger, so there will be a lot of fighting."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related on HuffPost:
March 2011: 120
Thousands of Syrians rally to show their support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing unprecedented domestic pressure amid a wave of dissent, in Damascus on March 29 2011. (ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images)
April 2011: 820
A protestor burns a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration after Friday prayers on April 29 2011 in Istanbul against the regime of al-Assad and the deadly crackdown on opposition protests. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
May 2011: 850
A veiled woman takes part in a protest calling on Syria's President Bashar Assad to step down, in front of the United Nations headquarters in Amman, on May 21 2011. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)
June 2011: 1,000
Syrian refugees arrive to a makeshift camp in the northern city of Idlib, in Syria, on June 13 2011. (MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images) <em><strong>CORRECTION:</strong> An earlier version of this caption placed the city of Idlib in Turkey. Idlib is in Syria. </em>
July 2011: 1,600
Thousands of pro-regime Syrians wave their national flag and portraits of President Bashar al-Assad during a rally in Damascus on July 17 2011. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
August 2011: More than 2,000
People hold pictures of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and fallen Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi as they take part in a demonstration gathering activists opposed to Syria's regime of President Bashar al-Assad on August 28 2011 at Taksim Square in Istanbul. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
September 2011: 2,700
A national flag hangs on a statue of Syria's late president Hafez al-Assad at the entrance of the flashpoint city of Homs on August 30 2011, as rights activists reported widespread anti-regime protests across Syria on the first day of the feast marking the end of Ramadan. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
October 2011: 3,000
Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wave Syrian flags during a pro-regime rally in Damascus on October 12, 2011. Assad's regime is facing international pressure amid a violent crackdown on anti-government protests that broke out in March across Syria. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
November 2011: More than 4,000
Syrian soldiers carry on November 26, 2011 the coffin of a comrade reportedly killed in an ambush by an armed group in the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs. (AFP/Getty Images)
December 2011: More than 5,000
Free Syrian Army captain identified as Ahmed al-Arabi sits in a safe house near Wadi Khaled on the Lebanese-Syrian border on December 30 2011. (Si Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images)
January 2012: 7,100
Free Syrian Army fighters take position in a house on the Lebanese-Syrian border prior to a nighttime operation on January 2 2012. (Si Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images)
February 2012: 7,500
A Turkish journalist in Ankara, holds pictures of two journalists, French photojournalist Remi Ochlik and Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin, killed in an alleged rocket attack by Syrian regime forces against a makeshift opposition media center in the besieged city of Homs in Syria on February 22 2012. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)
March 2012: More than 8,000
A defected Syrian soldier, now a member of the Free Syrian Army, stands outside a mountain outpost near the village of Janudieh in the northern province of Idlib on March 20 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
April 2012: Close to 9,000
Syrians pray over the bodies of Syrian violence victims at a funeral in the northwestern town of Kafr Zeta on April 10, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)
May 2012: More than 9,000
A general view shows the Syrian flag flying next to destruction in the Bab Amro neighbourhood of Homs on May 2 2012. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/GettyImages)
June 2012: 14,000
A Syrian man carries a wounded girl next to Red Crescent ambulances following an explosion that targeted a military bus near Qudssaya, a neighbourhood of the Syrian capital, on June 8, 2012. (AFP/GettyImages)
July 2012: 19,000
Members of Jihadist group Hamza Abdualmuttalib train near Aleppo on July 19, 2012. Rebels seized control of all of Syria's border crossings with Iraq on July 19. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/GettyImages)
August 2012: 23,000
A Syrian boy whose family has been displaced due to fighting between rebel fighterws and Syrian government forces is seen near the Syrian border with Turkey on August 25, 2012. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GettyImages)
September 2012: 30,000
A Syrian man carrying grocery bags tries to dodge sniper fire as he runs through an alley near a checkpoint manned by the Free Syria Army in the northern city of Aleppo on September 14, 2012. (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)
October 2012: 36,000
A Syrian boy plays on a destroyed tank near the rubble of a mosque that was destroyed during fighting between Syrian rebels and regime forces in the northern city of Azaz on September 23, 2012. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/GettyImages)
November 2012: 40,000
A walnut tree stripped of its branches stands in the rubble of the Kalat al-Numan citadel, originally built during the Roman era some 2000-years-ago, after allegedly being bombed several times by the Syrian air force on November 18, 2012, in Maaret Al-Numan in southern Idlib province. (John Cantlie/AFP/Getty Images)
December 2012: 60,000
Smoke rises in the Hanano and Bustan al-Basha districts in the northern city of Aleppo on December 1, 2012 as fighting continues through the night. (Javier Manzano/AFP/Getty Images)
January 2013: 65,000
A boy plays with a balloon in a Syrian refugees camp in Azaz, near the Turkish border, on January 10, 2013 after snow falls. (EDOUARD ELIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
February 2013: More than 70,000
Syrian Zakia Abdullah sits on the rubble of her house in the Tariq al-Bab district of the northern city of Aleppo on February 23, 2013. (Pablo Tosco/AFP/Getty Images)