“Syria has been bombed by the USA, the UK and France.” These words were the first piece of information I received regarding the devastating news from Friday, April the 13th. I was sitting in the living room of a friend’s house, and as soon as these words came out of her mouth, the whole room went silent.
The day before this happened, I had heard a classmate say, during History class, that the US president would not be attending the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, because he had to supervise the American response to the situation in Syria. Some speculated that this almost definitely meant they were making plans to bomb Syria. At first, this seemed like a possible, but unlikely thing to happen. The rest of the students in the class believed that this was probably not the main reason to why he decided not to attend, and they proceeded to comment on how the US president was simply “not interested,” and “too lazy to confront public opinion.” However, the day after, we all realized how wrong we were.
As soon as the news came out, social media feeds became flooded with information, comments and grief regarding the airstrikes in Syria. The whole world was shocked, hurt and concerned. Three specific targets were struck: a scientific research facility in Damascus, which was thought to be connected to the production of chemical and biological weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility located to the west of Homs; and lastly, a chemical weapons equipment storage site and an important command post, also located near Homs. Nevertheless, unverified reports coming from a pro-Assad militia commander say that other locations, including various sites close to Damascus, were also hit.
But the question is, why did these countries attack Syria? The attack was a measure against the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces, as President Trump stated, “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” . The latest suspected chemical attack had happened the week before, on Sunday, April the 7th, 2018, in the Syrian city of Douma, known as the “Douma chemical attack.” It was allegedly executed by the Syrian Arab army, and reportedly killed at least 70 people and injured more than 500 civilians. However, this would not be the first chemical attack, as almost exactly a year before, the events of the “Khan Shaykhun chemical attack” took place, which has been the deadliest known chemical attack in the Syrian civil war.
British Prime Minister Theresa May went on to say that there was “no practicable alternative than the use of force” when speaking about the airstrikes, and French President Emmanuel Macron also justified the airstrikes, mentioning that “the red line had been crossed” in the Douma chemical attack the week before. The leaders have received both applause and criticism from leaders from different nations. Countries such as Canada, Germany, Israel, and even the NATO secretary-general have shown their support and expressed their understanding on the subject; whereas nations such as Iran, Russia and China have condemned these actions.The Chinese foreign ministry even proceeded to call it a “violation to international law.” This clearly illustrates the line drawn between those countries that support this action, and those who condemn it.
Will these airstrikes prevent, or encourage further aggression? What will happen to the Syrian population? I ask myself these questions, knowing I will most likely not like the answers. The world is in peril. The USA has only accepted 11 Syrian refugees this year. Repeat that to yourself, read it again and again. Only eleven out of the 18.43 million people who consist of the Syrian population. 18.43 million; a number that keeps dropping, just like bombs in their country.