What appears to be the largest and most toxic chemical attack in Syria since the attack in August 2013 occurred this past Tuesday. According to humanitarian groups, more than 100 people died. The White House referred to the event as a “reprehensible” attack against innocent people “that cannot be ignored by the civilian world.” On Thursday, President Trump ordered the military to carry out a missile attack on Syrian forces for using chemical weapons against civilians.
Mixed opinions are being expressed by Syrian civilians regarding President Trump’s decision. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad denied that his military was responsible for the attack. Thus, some Syrians believe the United States’ decision is not justified since it hasn’t officially been proven that the Syrian government was behind the attacks. Others think this is a necessary action needed to be put forth, not only to bestow hope in the possibility of Syrians residing in camps to return home, but to create an overall hopeful future for Syria.
Some are skeptical that the toxic attack ever even happened. Russia suggested that the images and videos posted online by emergency workers and activists were fake. Doctors, rescue workers, and several witnesses, however, attested that multiple people, many of which were children, were seen gasping for air, foaming at the mouth, or lying motionless or unconscious on the ground.
Two days prior to the attack, an airstrike had severely damaged the area’s largest hospital. As a result, many victims were being treated at nearby clinics. A few hours following the first attack, another airstrike hit one of these clinics treating victims, according to witnesses. It is a never-ending tragedy. These kinds of attacks in Syria have become routine.
A 14-year old girl who lives in the attacked town said she had left home for her exam on the Quran (scheduled for early morning because fewer bombings were expected then) when the attack occurred. On her way, she saw an aircraft drop a bomb on a one-story building a few dozen yards away from her. She described an explosion like a yellow mushroom cloud that stung her eyes. “It was like [a] winter fog,” she said. As she took shelter in her home nearby, she saw multiple residents arrive by car to help the wounded. “When they got out, they inhaled the gas and died.”
Trump’s decision to carry out a missile attack on Syrian forces will be counterproductive. We may see the same result of a loss of American taxpayer dollars, as happened in Iraq and Libya. More importantly, reckless and avoidable destruction will take place. Although Trump’s decision was made to punish Syrian forces for using chemical weapons on civilians, a peaceful negotiation could bring the same positive outcomes.
Peace will never be accomplished through fatal military attacks. Right now, Syria needs peace. Nonetheless, to better Trump’s decision, Hillary Clinton states that the attack must be “followed by a broader strategy to end Syria’s civil war,” otherwise the attack would have been for the sole purpose of punishing, not bettering. “We [the U.S.] cannot, in one breath, speak of protecting Syrian babies, and in the next, close Americas doors to them,” she continues.
This may be the beginning of the end to Syria’s crisis.
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