Syrian Chemical Attacks

Ethan Ramchandani, Editor

General confusion has erupted after the US, UK, and France approved an airstrike on Syria as a response to an alleged gas attack on a Syrian rebel-held city by Bashar al-Assad. Syrian citizens in Douma were taken off guard when the chemical attack took place. The latest death toll has shown several dozens of people dead and the number continues to rise. Reports show that the chemical used was chlorine, and the main effects of this gas are shortness of breath and foaming of the mouth. But there are other adverse effects as well. The motives of the Syrian government for such an atrocity is grim and depressing. By killing their own civilians and breaking international law, they are effectively showing that the citizens of Syria are at the government’s mercy. Many of the casualties were children. Another reasonable motive for the attack could be to retake Damascus from the rebels. However, they won’t even take the blame when confront- ed by the international community.

The presidents of Syria and Russia, Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir V. Putin respectively, deny the attack even occurred when confronted by the United Nations. The minister, Walid al-Moallem, said in Damascus as accounted by the New York Times that they did not use these kinds of weapons against their own people. Not even against the rebels. Syrian officials also claim that they don’t have any chemical weapons after giving them up in 2013. Their excuse for the casualties? An air raid on an Al-Qaeda base released the deadly chemicals. Many conflicting accounts of the events can be found floating around and it is difficult to find a comprehensive death toll.

President Donald Trump has clearly condemned the attack and even took a jab at former president Barack Obama for his lack of action against Syria during his term in office. Critics of Obama say that he did not enforce his decision in removing the chemical weapons in Syria. Trump responded to these chemical attacks in a tweet he did not get approved by his advisers saying ‘Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!’

The response of the US, UK, and France was to support an airstrike on chemical weapon facilities. One is located in Damascus and another two were located further north, west of Homs. Trump intended for these attacks to show that the Syrian president’s continual violation of international law will not be tolerated. These attacks came despite president Trump’s promise to limit involvement in Syria.

The events of the past couple of months are a new installment in a series of conflicts in Syria. Starting in 2011 there have been a number of controversies from rebel groups to terrorist extremists. This conflict has no foreseeable end and may continue to worsen.

In lieu of the recent attacks, this raises the question: Were the US, France, and the UK justified in attacking them. There were some innocent lives lost, granted not as many as the gas attack took, but they were innocent nonetheless. However, no diplomatic solution would work since Syria and Russia have been denying the attack. This leaves us between a rock and a hard place. I leave you to ponder the right course of action. Pray for those lives lost in the chemical attack and the U.S. airstrikes and that we may put this