The U.S. airstrike on Syria created an uproar welcomed by rebels. This marks the first military action the nation has taken against President Bashar Assad.
The Shayrat air base, in Homs province, sends bombers to central and northern Syria. It was the target of 60 Tomahawk missiles, at 3:34 a.m., Friday, April 7, 2017. According to U.S. officials, the hangars, airstrips, ammunition storage areas, and control tower were destroyed. The airstrike created a fire, which took two hours to extinguish. A member of the Syrian opposition reported four to six Syrian soldiers and a general were killed.
Governor of Homs province Talal Barazi, told the Associated Press that the airstrikes supported terrorists. The Syrian Coalition, an opposition group, was pleased with the U.S. response.
Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria
President Donald Trump ordered the strike after sarin and chlorine gases were used to attack Khan Sheikhoun, in northern Syria, on April 4. The chemical weapons killed over 80 people, many of them infants and children. Approximately 500 people required immediate medical care. Some of the victims had to be transported to Turkey for treatment.
The chemical attack was followed by three more assaults that were reportedly chemical-free. Khan Sheikhoun is held by rebels and is often targeted by Syria and Russia. It is unclear where the attacks originated. Both Russia and Assad deny any responsibility. Four hours later, the clinic and Al-Rahma hospital were targeted by missiles.
Response From Members of UN Security Council
The U.N. Security Council met to draft a resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons. However, 15 members could not come to an agreement on the judgement.
Trump was warned that retaliation would cause the war in Syria to escalate and is facing ridicule from all sides.
- The Hezbollah group called the U.S. airstrike foolish and a “new crime,” increasing tensions in the Middle East. The fear is that the action has made the situation more complicated worldwide. Hezbollah has thousands backing President Bashar Assad, in Syria.
- The Australian government supported the U.S. airstrike on Shayrat air base.
- Israel agreed that a strong message was sent to the Assad regime. Ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon said “it was a morale decision that delivered a triple message;” no more chemical weapons, to Syria, North Korea, and Iran.
- Head of the foreign affairs committee, at the Kremlin, Konstantin Kosachev, stated the action taken by the U.S. has dowsed all hopes for their cooperation in Syria. Commenting that Russia is fighting the terrorists, while Trump targeted the Syrian government, who is also fighting ISIS.
- Saudi Arabia claims that Trump made a courageous decision to drop missiles on Syria. The Saudi Foreign Ministry believes Assad was behind the chemical attack.
- Iran stated the strike was a “unilateral action [that was] dangerous, destructive, and violates the principles of international law.” The country believes the U.S. military action helped terrorists and made the conflict in Syria worse.
- The foreign minister of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, stated the transition to remove Assad from power should begin.
- Britain supported the airstrike before missiles were launched. Prime Minister Theresa May agreed the action taken by Trump, was appropriate after the chemical weapons attack.
- France and Italy concur with the prime minister.
- The Syrian Coalition is hoping this will start a larger campaign against Damascus.
- U.S.- supported rebel commander, Major Jamil Saleh told the Associated Press this could be a “turning point” in the Syrian war.
Russia Responds to US Airstrike
Russia and Syria called the strike an “act of aggression.” Putin stated it was a “violation of international law,” that was launched “under a far-fetched pretext.” Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, expressed the airstrike as a “serious obstacle” in the international coalition against terrorism.
Russia was told about the strike before missiles were launched. Putin has supported Assad against ISIS and rebel armies since 2014. There was an arrangement between Russia and the U.S., which required the two countries exchange information before flying over Syria. That contract has been put on hold by Russia.
A reported 400,000 people have lost their lives during the six-year conflict. Alaa Alyousef, a resident of Khan Sheikhoun, lost 25 family members due to the chemical weapons attack. He is 27 years old and wonders how the airstrike would help, when there are 15 more air bases. He wants a safe and secure place for civilians.
By Jeanette Smith
CNN: From airstrike to US intervention: How a chemical attack in Syria unfolded
The Globe and Mail: Syria decries ‘aggression’ as U.S. launches cruise missiles
CTV News: Trump launches U.S. missile strike against Syria
Featured and Top Image by Mstyslav Chernov Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License