CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rev. Jim Lewis remembers his time in Iraq in 1990, just before the start of the Gulf War, as a time of strife and turmoil.
"Saddam (Hussein) was holding thousands of hostages. When I came back, I tried to organize people who were willing to say, 'Mr. President, don't send troops there.' They sent them over," said Lewis, a former pastor at St. John's Episcopal Church in Charleston. "Once you put troops in an area, war ships with tomahawk missiles, you're really announcing your plan to commit to a war."
Lewis and members of Patriots for Peace and the West Virginia Citizen Action Group staged a protest against American intervention in another Middle Eastern country at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston on Sunday.
More than 30 people gathered with signs to protest American military action in Syria and to urge the state's representatives in Congress to do the same, he said.
Lewis said that a unilateral response from the U.S. would likely cause more problems for Syria, a country in the midst of a civil war. President Barack Obama called for U.S. military intervention in Syria on Saturday, but will wait for congressional approval before taking any action.
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the U.S. has confirmed that Syria's government used chemical weapons, including Sarin gas, in a strike on Aug. 21 that killed at least 1,429 of its citizens.
"To do this is just to enter a situation in turmoil," Lewis said. "We would be creating more havoc and turmoil -- more bloodshed, more refugees, and if we were to do that right now, it would be a huge mistake."
Lewis said the two organizations chose Haddad Riverfront Park because of its big attraction right now; the LST 325, a WWII-era naval landing ship docked at the park until Tuesday.