Syrian rebel coalition leader lobbies U.S. to help overthrow Assad

Syrian coalition leader Ghassan Hitto.
Syrian coalition leader Ghassan Hitto.

(CBS News) ISTANBUL -- Ghassan Hitto leads a coalition of Syrian rebel groups.

He was elected interim Prime Minister by Syrian opposition groups currently based outside the country.

Hitto is an American citizen, who lived in the U.S. for 30 years after arriving as a teenager.

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Until last year, he worked in computers and lived outside Dallas with his children and his American-born wife Suzanne — who converted to Islam before they were married.

But he told CBS News he couldn't stay in Texas as the death toll in Syria continued to climb.

Ghassan Hitto with his wife, Suzanne.
Ghassan Hitto with his wife, Suzanne. CBS

Now, ending Syria's civil war is Hitto's full time job.

It's a conflict in which the opposition is massively outgunned by the government's tanks, fighter jets and scud missiles, and Hitto wants the U.S. to do more to help Syria's rebels overthrow the Assad dictatorship.

Holly Williams spoke with him in Syria's neighboring country, Turkey.

GHASSAN HITTO: We are certain that this regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: The White House says that it still needs conclusive evidence.

GHASSAN HITTO: President Obama, with all due respect for him, the price of the first child who died in Daraa is far more important than waiting for conclusive evidence of the use of chemical weapons for him to do something. That was too much of a price for the Syrian people and too much of a price to be placed on the conscience of America ... we are not asking for boots on the ground. We are not asking for any US soldiers, or any British soldiers, or any foreign soldiers to come in and put their lives at risk.


HOLLY WILLIAMS: Give me some specifics. What do you want from the US Government?

GHASSAN HITTO: What we need from the US is surgical strikes of all the launching pads of Scud missiles. These locations are known to the intelligence community. That's one. We need the establishment of a no-fly zone. We need safe passages to be established so we can deliver aid to the Syrian people more effectively and more regularly.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: Isn't there a problem that even when this war ends, it's unleashed so much chaos, so much violence, so much hatred, that there may not be much hope for a peaceful, unified Syria?

GHASSAN HITTO: It's a complicated situation. But delaying action will make the situation worse. Waiting, more of doing nothing is going to make what you have described worse.