Syrian army uses chemical weapons on rebels and civilians, eliciting a missile attack from the US


Image by Anas Salloum via Wikipedia

A recent air strike by the Syrian military on April 4 has stirred up worldwide controversy for its implications on the current situation of the Syrian civil war and the United States’ involvement in the conflict.

The Syrian military dropped what were suspected to be chemical bombs early in the morning on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria, an area under rebel control. Though the use of chemical weapons was denied by the Syrian government, the yellow gas released had severe physical effects on those exposed, including shortness of breath and asphyxiation, and at least 89 people died. 541 others were injured, and some of those treating or coming into contact with the victims faced adverse symptoms, as well. The hospitals and emergency rooms of the country have filled up and are running short on medication.

According to the World Health Organization, “The likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparent lack of external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms.”

Even thousands of miles away in the U.S., there has been scrutiny of these actions.

“I think [these chemical attacks] are awful,” Spanish teacher Amy Kieffer said. “I cannot understand how human beings can attack one another in such a brutal manner.”

Others agree on the lack of morality found in using these weapons.

“I just think it’s a cruel way of going about things,” junior BreeAnna Duell said. “It makes me really sad thinking about all the lives that were lost, and I wish that it didn’t happen.”

This use of chemical warfare is not the first the world has seen from Syria. The Syrian government has been under fire before for the use of chemical warfare, with another notable attack on the town of Ghouta in 2013.

Following the attack, several larger nations, including the U.S., called for the United Nations Security Council to make a resolution condemning the attack and containing other regulatory measures. Additionally, they urged Russia to assert control over its ally and help denounce the action.

However, President Donald Trump took further and more direct action in the situation. Trump launched a military strike on the Shayrat air base, the air field from which the earlier chemical attack was believed to have been launched, sending a barrage of 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles and killing six people. This decision marks one of the first direct U.S. action taken in the Syrian Civil War.

Although taking the actions above, Trump was against attacking Syria in 2013.

In Sept. 2013, Trump tweeted out the following message: “President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your ‘powder’ for another (and more important) day!”

Possibly in response to the coming of this aforementioned “more important day,” Trump explained the decision and his changed stance on the issue to reporters on Thursday night at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said to reporters.

He continued on to explain the threat his regime thought the attack was forewarning, citing the safety of other countries as well as Syria itself.

“Years of previous attempts at changing [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s] behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” Trump said. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies. Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

The U.S.’s actions have seemingly brought up many different opinions amongst citizens, as well.

“I agree with the attack,” Kieffer said. “I hope it sent a strong message to Syria that the world is watching, and within the U.S., our leader is not going to let your actions slide by unnoticed.”

However, others took on a more critical view.

“I feel like there could have been other ways to resolve this problem other than bombing [and] having lives lost,” Duell said.

Many also see the potential threat this poses on U.S. security with regards to Russia, whose position as a Syrian ally causes tension.

“[The U.S. attack] could cause some lasting strife between our two nations as the Russian airforce was thought to be housed on this base and were given advanced warnings of the attack, but they claim they had no knowledge that the attack was carried out from planes at the base,” Kieffer said. “One way or another, there will be ramifications.”