In a time of a tumultuous presidency in the U.S., terrorism has been at the forefront of every American’s mind. However, is it not the States, this time, that need worry of attacks from the air. On April 3, 2017, Syria experienced one of the worst chemical bombings in its nation. The northern rebel-held area became a toxic kill zone, due to international outrage over the increasing government impunity the country has shown throughout the six-year war.
According to the New York Times, the gas spread after warplanes dropped bombs containing deadly gasses, in the early morning hours. Unsuspecting Syrian’s inhaled a nerve agent and other banned chemicals. Live images flooded the pages of Facebook showing many people, including children, dying as they foamed at the mouth, gasping for air.
Immediately after the attack the Health Department in Idlib Province, where the bombing took place, provided the names of the 70 people that died. However, humanitarian groups were still identifying bodies, saying as many as 100 people may have died.
Paying the Deepest Price
The White House and the United Kingdom are blaming the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime for the airstrike on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Syria is denying the use of chemical weapons. Instead, saying the deaths resulted from a weapons factory on the ground, which the regime airstrike hit. That lead to the gasses being released. However, witnesses on the Turkish side of the border say different. They told CNN that they saw the chemical bombs dropped from the air.
In correspondence with witness accounts, the World Health Organization said the victims bore signs of exposure to nerve gas agents. Also, in alignment with the attack being chemical, Amnesty International stated there is evidence that the bombs launched, were chemical ones.
War seems to be the way the human race solves its problems, nevertheless, it is an attack such as the one in Syria, that makes the hearts of the world want to reach out and surround them with helping hands. The faces of dying children laying on the ground struggling to take their next breath sent outrage across seas and around the world.
Images of Syrian’s young citizens receiving treatment in the Idlib province hospital strikes the heart cords of even the toughest people. A 13-year-old boy, Mazin Yusif, is seen crying at the Reyhanli Hospital in southern Turkey, as he told his cringe-worthy story of the suspected chemical airstrike.
At 6:30 in the morning, the plane struck. I ran up on our roof and saw that the strike was in front of my grandfather’s house.
Yusif said he ran to his grandfather’s house and found him slumped over. The young boy then said, he ran outside to call for help.
I got dizzy and then fainted in front of my grandfather’s garage. I next found myself here in this hospital, naked in a bed.
The boy’s grandmother Aisha Tilawi, 55, was also sent to the hospital. Tilawi said she saw yellow and blue after the plane dropped a chemical-laden bomb. She lost three of her family members in the attack, as she lay in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask on her face.
We started choking, felt dizzy, then fainted. Mazin was trying to wake up his grandfather. Three of my family died.
Another victim named Ahmed Abdel Rahim, 31, did not know where his family was after the attack. As reported by CNN, he stared blankly from his hospital bed, as he explained being hit by poisonous gasses that were carried by three rockets.
I was in my house. I had difficulty breathing, but I feel better now. But I did throw up after getting to the hospital. I don’t know if my family is dead or alive. I don’t know anything.
However, the most traumatizing images of the casualties, from the Syrian airstrike, were the repeated showings of a young father, Abdel Hamed Youssef, 29, holding his dead 9-month-old twins. The bereaved father tearfully said to his babies:
Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye.
Not only did Youssef lose his babies, he also lost his wife and 22 relatives. In a heart-wrenching account of his losses, the young father is shown burying his twins next to his wife and other relatives in a mass gravesite.
According to the New York Post, Youssef asked his cousin to film his goodbyes to his boy and girl, Aya and Ahmed, as they were headed to the burial site. At the gravesite, the young father was being held up by two other men, as he cried over his losses and pointed at the newly dug graves of his family.
We buried them. I took Ahmed and Aya and buried them with my brothers. I buried my kids with my own hands. My wife and my brothers. My Aya … my Aya! Take care of the kids, Dalal. I told them I would never ever leave them, my loves.
A relative of Youssef, an English teacher, Aya Fadl, 25, stated she fled from her house with her 20-month-old son, searching for safety from the toxic chemicals. She said the air became thick, it did not smell bad, but was hard to breathe. As she ran for safety, she accounts being horrified when she came upon a truck filled with bodies, including her own relatives.
Fighting Fire With Fire
In a world were human beings fight fire with fire, the chemical bombing of Syria did not go unnoticed. The U.S. President Donald Trump ordered 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at a Syrian air base on Friday, April 7, where the chemical weapons attack came from.
Trump is already receiving backlash from his critics, saying it was a “reckless move” and that American involvement in the Syrian war is an “unwise move.” Some are saying, “why involve ourselves in a war that is not ours? We’re only asking for retaliation.”
However, the president’s supporters are celebrating his attack, saying it is a “sign of American resolve, which has been missing for eight years.” They are also saying it is a “message to the bad guys.”
However, if it is looked at from a loss of lives point-of-view, it can be broken down like this:
- The chemical attack on Syria caused, in its wake, 70 innocent lives lost, including 30 children.
- The U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base has reportedly killed nine innocent lives, including four children.
- Six servicemen, none of them Russian, are said to have been killed.
Since when is it okay to fire any weapon into an area where it is not known whether innocent lives, especially children, are located?
The U.K. is offering their full support of the assault that came from U.S. ships in the Mediterranean. On the flip side Russia is calling the attack:
Aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.
A spokesperson for Vladimir Putin said, he believed the U.S. carried out the strikes under a “far-fetched pretext.” On the other side of the coin, a No. 10 spokeswoman stated, the U.K. government is in support of the U.S. and their actions. She went on to say that they believe it was appropriate, in response, to the “barbaric” chemical weapons airstrike, that it was intended to deter any more attacks. Defense Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, gave confirmation he was given notice of the strikes but was not asked to get involved.
Consequently, the risk of military escalation with Russia is of utmost importance. Repeated objections for a U.S. military attack on the Assad regime has been a focal point for years. Moreover, retaliation would be likely if U.S. strikes were to kill Russian military personnel, which are located with the Syrian military personnel. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says, Moscow was notified of the attack ahead of time. This was done for the sole purpose of deconfliction.
By Tracy Blake
The New York Times: Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad
The New York Post: Man buries twin babies and wife killed in Syria gas attack
CNN: Survivors of Syrian attack describe chemical bombs falling from sky
Top Image Courtesy of Karl Ludwig Poggemann’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Image Courtesy of Codice Tuna Colectivo de Arte’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Third Image Courtesy of IoSonoUnaFotoCamera’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License