by Gabriella Pisano ’18
For the past seven years, Syria has been in the midst of a civil war. With different groups attempting to take control of the government, other countries are getting involved in the conflict.
On Saturday, April 7, a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, reportedly killed at least 70 people. After a joint inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons, the attack was attributed to the Syrian government. Both the Syrian government and Russia denied reports of the attack, claiming that all reports are fabricated.
In response to the Douma attack, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France fired 105 missiles to destroy chemical weapons factories in Syria on Saturday, April 14. This marked the biggest military attack by western powers against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. According to Pentagon officials, at least one building was leveled and Syria’s chemical weapons program was set back for years.
The missiles targeted three areas that were believed to be centers of chemical weapons manufacturing. The three areas include a scientific research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs and a storage facility and command post near Homs. After the missile strike, President Trump tweeted, “A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”
There have been mixed reactions to the actions taken by the U.S., the UK, and France. According to USA Today, “Russia’s U.S. embassy released a statement warning that the airstrikes will ‘not be left without consequences.’ It said that ‘all responsibility’ rests with Washington, London, and Paris.”
President Trump explained the reasoning behind the attack stating, “The purpose of our actions tonight [was] to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”
Leen Hamdan, a university student who lives in Bazreh, the district in Damascus where one of the bombed research centers was located, said, “Of course, I am against this strike because it’s an aggression against our country. It’s just an excuse like what happened in Iraq. No country has the right to intervene in other countries.”
There has been growing concern surrounding the legal justification of the military strikes. Moscow’s ambassador accused the U.S. of striking a sovereign country, to which Kelly Currie, the acting duty representative of the U.S., responded with an accusation against Russia claiming that they distract from the atrocities the Assad regime commits.