11:31am

Mon June 25, 2012
Top Stories

Mid-State's Syrian Émigrés Watch Conflict Unfold

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Syrian-American community here in Middle Tennessee is following the fighting in Syria closely.

NATO will hold emergency talks tomorrow to discuss Syria's downing of a Turkish jet fighter on Friday, but the alliance isn’t expected to take military action even if it finds Syria at fault.

Meanwhile the killing continues. Some 40 people were reported killed in Syria yesterday in new clashes between rebels and government troops. Opposition activists say the conflict has killed 14,000 people, mostly civilians, over the past 15 months.

Middle Tennessee State Engineering Professor Saleh Sbenaty immigrated to the U.S. more than three decades ago, but much of his family still lives there. He says his brothers and a sister live in areas that have seen a lot of fighting.

“They’re bombarded by rockets and their houses are riddled with bullets. They will spend hours and hours in the bathroom – without electricity, without water – to stay away from stray bullets or stray rockets.”

Dr. Sbenaty says he’s hardly alone in his concern. He estimates that there’s something between 500 and 600 Syrian émigrés living here in Middle Tennessee.