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Local family concerned about relatives in Syria

Syrian rebels posted videos showing alleged victims of chemical attack

MADISON, Wis. - The U.N. Security Council has scheduled emergency meetings on the latest allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria.

Opposition groups claim military forces killed anywhere from 100 to more than 1,000 people in a poison gas attack and shelling near Damascus. Syrian rebels posted videos to YouTube showing what they claim are the victims of a poisonous gas attack. They said President Bashar Assad's troops killed hundreds of civilians, including many children in an artillery and rocket attack in the suburbs of Damascus.

A Syrian military spokesman denied the use of chemical weapon, calling the claims absolutely baseless.

The shocking video of the alleged attacks are hitting close to home for a Madison family.

Basel and Tiffany Taha of Madison saw the news out of Syria Wednesday morning and immediately thought of family in Damascus who they typically would have been visiting right now on a summer trip to the country.

"I certainly hope that it would get the attention of the world and something gets done to stop this madness and scary situation in Syria because it's a terrible waste," said Basel Taha.

For the Tahas the conflict is personal, but University of Wisconsin-Madison Middle Eastern studies professor Jennifer Loewenstein said everyone should be concerned.

"I think they should care because what happens in Syria is going to have an effect across the Middle East," said Loewenstein. "It's already related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and already related to the Egyptian revolution."

Unfortunately, this is not Taha's first experience with family in a war zone. WISC-TV spoke to him back in 1991 as his family escaped Kuwait into Syria during the Gulf War. His parents left Syria as the unrest began two years ago.

"This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the world, everybody in the world who cares about children and humanity and just peace," said Taha.

The Tahas spent 2011 visiting some of their family who escaped Syria into Jordan and said even at that time they couldn't cross the border into the country. So far they haven't been able to reach their family in Damascus to see if they are OK.

Local family concerned about relatives in Syria

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