In response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attack on his own civilians Tuesday morning, President Trump has ordered an airstrike on Syria. As of Thursday evening, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched directly at a government-controlled Shayrat airbase, the location the deadly chemicals were dispersed from using military planes earlier this week. Although the exact death total from last night’s attack is not final at this point, the number is expected to be somewhere near 6-10 people.
The airstrike ordered by President Trump is the first direct American attack on the Syrian government. Since becoming president in January, this is the most direct military act Trump has ordered into action. In a speech given to the American people following the airstrikes Thursday night, President Trump defended his decision by stating, “Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.” Trump is asking other nations to work together to end the violence in Syria.
In his speech, he also condemned the act that has “choked out the lives of innocent men, women and children” committed by Assad earlier this week. He is referring to the deadly attack that injured over 550 people and killed more than 80 people in the small town of Khan Sheikhoun. Devastated survivors of the chemical attacks recall the missiles hitting around 6:30 am Tuesday morning, releasing toxic agents. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the weapons that were used “are banned by international law because they represent an intolerable barbarism.”
As a result of Thursday night’s airstrikes, tensions remain high among world leaders. Many believe President Trump acted too soon, as he made the executive order from his vacation home in Palm Beach, Florida. Vladimir Putin perceives the attack as an act of “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and under a false pretext,” reports The Guardian. Furthermore, Bouthaina Shaaban, a top adviser to Syria’s President, confirms that “we believe that it is going to backfire on them because it will only make us and our allies more determined to beat them.”
As conflict continues in Syria, civilians hope for peace and resolution for the future.