Peace activists from the U.S., Canada and Europe say they want to travel to Syria to act as human shields in an effort to prevent an American military attack on key infrastructure sites in the warring country.
Pacifists with the “International Human Shields” movement say they plan to travel to Syria and position themselves at power plants, water treatment facilities, communications facilities and food storage sites, but need to get there quickly before the Pentagon launches any action.
According to the Daily Telegraph, President Bashar Assad’s government has not said if it will allow the activists entry to the country.
The movement is best known for sending several hundred “human shield” activists to Baghdad in protest of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Most of them left or were kicked out of Iraq before the war.
Founder of the human shield campaign in Iraq, Ken O’Keefe, a former Marine, who has said he was renouncing his U.S. citizenship, explained his motivation to the Daily Telegraph. “The policies of Britain and the US make no sense; we are aligning ourselves with the people who we were supposedly fighting in Iraq,” he said.
Earlier this year while in Tehran, O’Keefe said, "Iran is not the threat, we are."
Another activist who identified himself only as 33-year-old Canadian pianist Andrew said he’s willing to die for the cause in Damascus.
"If I had a hand big enough to squash the US tanks then I would. Democracy is America's deadliest export, they use it as an excuse to destroy countries,” he told the Telegraph.
"I think a movement of solidarity on a global scale could grab the attention of a lot of people. I think if there are that many people in the US who are willing to do that it would send a powerful message. Even if people have to die for it,” he added.
The legal adviser to the new group says he has been “inundated” with messages from those willing to join from the U.S., Canada, France, Italy and the UK.
The English language pro-Assad blog “Syria News” quotes a statement from international activists which says while they could move fast to Syria, “ten mores days for preparation would be ideal.” That timing is contingent on the votes in Congress if to approve the use of force against Assad’s infrastructure and military.
Syrian supporters of Assad have also emerged as human shields. The “Over Our Dead Bodies” organization has been holding a sit-in – with their children in tow - at Qassioun Mountain above Damascus where a large military base and television center are located.
"We think the first target might be Syrian state media," group founder Ozgret Dandashi told the British paper. "Even if the American's attack we will stay here."