Image Credits: AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

Last night, the United States military launched a series of targeted strikes against Syrian chemical weapon facilities. The United States, United Kingdom, and France joined forces to make the threats of military action against the Assad regime a reality after a week of deliberation and gathering intelligence. This military action follows a supposed chemical attack that claimed the lives of over 70 Syrians last weekend, an attack presumably initiated by Syrian government forces.

While last weekend’s chemical attack provoked the cooperative military action taken last night, the Assad regime is not new to the use of chemical agents. The Syrian president is likely responsible for more than 50 chemical attacks on his own people over the course of a civil war that has ravaged the nation for seven years and counting. The goal of yesterday’s precision strikes was to injure his chemical weapons arsenal. The strikes targeted three separate chemical storage facilities.

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What was the result of the airstrikes?

President Trump affirmed in a tweet that the strikes were successful, concluding the report by claiming “Mission Accomplished!” Officials noted that the strikes did not totally wipe out the Syrian government’s chemical weapons arsenal and warned that Assad still maintains the ability to issue another chemical attack. However, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addressed this point at an emergency Security Council meeting, saying that the United States is “locked and loaded” and will release another wave of air strikes if Assad again attacks his people with chemical agents. Other leaders expressed feelings of solidarity with that statement, as well.

What does Russia think?

Unsurprisingly, Russian officials condemned the action. Railing against the military decision, they called the strikes an act of “hooliganism” and asserted that it violated international law. They defended the use of Syrian chemical plants by saying that the facilities were only used for “peaceful” purposes, like bolstering the economy in the war-ridden country. That statement stands in direct contrast to the intelligence that led to the air strikes.

What is the public response to the airstrikes?

The cooperative action between the United States, the United Kingdom, and France has been met with mixed responses by the public. While the chemical attack is widely agreed upon to be a despicable and evil action on the part of the Syrian government, individuals across American party lines are wondering if the response of the West is appropriate. Some are questioning the constitutionality of the strikes, underscoring the President’s need to go through Congress to issue this level of military action. Others are hailing the operation a success; Syria breached the “red line” of chemical weapon use, which they insist warranted cooperative action in order to defend the innocent Syrians who suffered and died at the hands of Assad’s attack.

What could happen next?

Following the cooperative air strikes, fear is looming among the international community because of the potential responses of Syrian allies. The potential responses Russia and Iran, ardent supporters of the Assad rule in Syria, are uncertain. Russian forces are present throughout Syria, and Iran has used this war to further their own interests. While they bitterly criticized Friday night’s military engagement, neither power has disclosed what they would or could do in response.

The circumstances in Syria are nothing short of heartbreaking. The international community grapples with its next steps in this crisis, are prayers are with the innocent Syrian lives that have been forever altered at the hands of their government.

Liana I.
FFL Cabinet
Liana is a follower of Christ and current communications student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She enjoys writing, reading, and serving others.

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