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But in Damascus, most of which remains under regime control, even many opponents of the regime also oppose U.S. intervention, according to Khaled Harbash.
Harbash, 21, joined the uprising in April 2011 by helping to organize demonstrations as head of the Hama Civil Team. He moved to Damascus last year, where he has continued to engage in political activism with Building the Syrian State Current, a non-violent opposition group whose members organize meetings and democracy-building workshops among Syrian youth in hopes of building an inclusive foundation for a post-Assad government. The Current opposes outside intervention and armed opposition and favors a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Though it operates independently of the internationally recognized opposition groups, its members inside Syria continue to be targeted by the Assad regime.
Harbash is equally disdainful of all outside parties engaged in Syria's conflict. Russia, the Gulf states, the West and Turkey are all "part of the problem and complicit in the crimes committed against civilians in Syrian villages and cities," Harbash said. "What started as interference is now an assault on Syria's sovereignty."
He fears that outside intervention prolongs Syria's war and could turn the country into "a failed state."
"The United States is not an international judge who can punish and forgive as they please," said Harbash. "Any military strike would not be against the regime, but against the entire country. And Syrians who for two and a half years have suffered from the war will bear the consequences."
Osama Nasser, 35, is an activist with the SNVM who recently moved from Damascus -- where he'd been in hiding -- to East Ghouta, the rebel-controlled area targeted in the alleged gas attack two weeks ago. Although he also opposes the proposed punishment strike over the Ghouta attack, he's angrier that the international community had done nothing to stop the violence that has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past two and a half years. "The West cares only about its reputation or its image," he said, "not about innocent lives slaughtered every single day."
Nasser has little faith in a limited U.S. action that will leave the regime intact. "Besides," he says, "the history of such intervention doesn't show that this will bring peace or democracy for the country."
When asked why he committed to nonviolent resistance instead of joining the armed rebellion, Nasser said: "I believe in people power. Arms don't bring democracy."
Building the Syrian State Current co-founder Rim Turkmani, based in London, argues that a U.S. military strike will exacerbate the bloodshed, emboldening more extreme elements of the armed rebellions and hampering the civil society resistance she sees as the vital foundation of a future democratic Syria.
"This is not a regime that you can remove with military confrontation from the air without killing millions," she told Al Jazeera. "We want to force the regime through a political solution to start sharing power to put the country on the path to democracy."
Ending the war through diplomatic means, says Turkmani, is the only way to weaken both the Assad regime and the al-Qaeda-linked groups because it will open up a space for the non-violent resistance that initiated the uprising to reassert itself.
But Reem Salahi believes that the strength and influence of al-Qaeda groups in the rebellion has been exaggerated. "The Syrians I met didn't like these foreign fighters," she said. So much so that residents in some rebel-held areas have demonstrated against extremist fighters. Earlier this year, the town of Mayadeen erupted in protests as residents demanded that fighters from the al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front leave their town.
Still, Salahi is ambivalent about U.S. military strikes. "I reject this binary analysis of do we strike or not strike," she explained. "For me it's about how we end the bloodshed." Still, Salahi sympathizes with Syrians who support U.S. strikes, saying, "It breaks my heart that the only hope that a lot of Syrians I've met is the dropping of foreign bombs."
Despite their ambivalence over the prospect of U.S. military strikes in Syria, many of the non-violent opposition activists are skeptical of some of the arguments against intervention coming from the antiwar left in the West.
"I need for people who are against the strikes to understand that there are valid reasons and invalid reasons to be against the strikes," said Kahf, who strongly opposes U.S. strikes and advocates instead for diplomacy.
"Wringing your hands and screaming al-Qaeda or Iraq is not a valid reason. You need to get to know Syria, and not deny the legitimate struggle of the Syrian people and not equate rebel atrocities with hugely exponentially greater regime atrocities."
Kahf has written that many in the antiwar left ignore the grassroots base of the Syrian uprising, viewing it "only through the endgame of geopolitics," a narrative that turns the uprising into "nothing but the proxy of U.S. imperialism" -- a view she strenuously rejects. Instead, she and others argue that making sense of Syria, today more than ever, demands that more attention be paid to the opposition voices of Syrian civil society whose voices have been increasingly drowned out by the sounds of war.