Following Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged chemical attack on Syrian civilians, President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike on Damascus, the capital of Syria, early Saturday morning. According to evidence gathered by officials in France, the United Kingdom and the United States, over 40 civilians were killed in the gas attack early in the month. According to CNN, Syrian armed forces confirmed a total of 110 missiles, most of which were intercepted by the Syrian military. The missiles struck a research base in Damascus responsible for creating chemical weaponry. None were confirmed to have hit any Syrian military bases. The strikes were coordinated with military forces from France and the United Kingdom.

Eyewitness accounts reported the use of barrel chemical bombs dropped from helicopters over Douma, where the attack was staged, according to the Telegraph news. Photographs of the barrels match those of barrel bombs used by the Syrian regime in the past. Government helicopters were also spotted over Douma, which had reportedly taken off from a nearby airfield belonging to the Syrian regime. The regime refuted all claims of the attack, with Russia stating that the incident was “staged” in corroboration with the United Kingdom. The Violations Documentation Center reported a strong smell of chlorine, one of the alleged gases used in the attack.

Trump described Assad’s alleged attack as “a significant attack against his own people” in justifying his own attack over the war-ravaged country. He later declared it a “mission accomplished” over Twitter following the attack. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated, “The United States had interest in reverting a worsening catastrophe in Syria, specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.” He later stated that  “important infrastructure was destroyed which will result in a setback for the Syrian regime. They will lose years of research and development, storage and equipment.”

Dunfort also claimed that the United States had “specially identified targets” to prevent Russian retaliation of military forces. Russia has voiced its support for the Syrian regime in the past.

Rachel Lockley, a junior special education and early grades major at West Chester University, stated she has “mixed feelings about the U.S. intervening” and “coming in to save the day” in situations like Syria. “That causes a lot of problems,” she said. “I do think that we need to help people in need in terms of when a leader turns against his own country. But … airstriking is not the way to do it.” She is unsure as to whether we should intervene at all, but believes it is the responsibility of the United Nations and other global organizations to help with crises such as the gas attack in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the United States’ attack on Syria, saying that Trump ordered the strike when the country “finally had a chance for peace,” according to CNN. Russian officials felt threatened by the States’ attack on Syria, claiming that they had previously warned that the States’ actions would not be met without consequences. Trump has formerly criticized Russia’s support of the Syrian regime, denouncing their failure to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

As the story unravels, students are encouraged to turn to reputable news sources for up-to-date information about the United States’ involvement in the airstrike.

Samantha Walsh is a third-year student majoring in special education and English with a minor in autism studies. ✉

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