President Donald Trump has take a big turn-around in his policy governing United States involvement in Syria. Trump ordered airstrikes against a Syrian airfield on Thursday. This launch of dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles presents a definite shift in U.S. foreign policy as the first direct military action taken against the Assad regime throughout the six-year Syrian civil war. The airstrikes were spurred in retaliation for reports of chemical attacks in Syria’s Idlib province, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of people (includeng children).
The attacks were carried out by warplanes of the Assad regime, targeting vulnerable locations held by the rebels. The first attack was carried out in Khan Sheikhoun, which is under rebel control. It is suspected that sarin or another similar compound was contained in bombs that were dropped in this location. Two other attacks followed just a few hours later. One target was Al-Rahma hospital and another makeshift clinic, whose patients were wounded rebels. It is estimated a total of 86 people were killed in these chemical attacks. Of this number, 26 were children, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organization.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied culpability for the attacks. Despite these denials, the U.S. and several other countries are attributing responsibility to the Syrian government. Still, the U.S. is continuing to investigate the attacks in order to determine if there were other parties involved. There are suspicions that the first attack was carried out by a Russian warplane. Another idea that has been suggested is that following the initial chemical attack, the hospital and clinic became targets in order to destroy any evidence of the occurrence of a chemical attack.
Images of the attacks that were spread across social media, particularly those of lifeless children, spurred the U.S. president to take action and launch the retaliatory airstrike. Mr. Trump justified the airstrikes, saying that he hoped that a response by the U.S. would hopefully deter the Syrian government from the further use of any chemical weapons. The U.S. missiles targeted the Shayrat air base, which is controlled by the Syrian government.
This base was chosen as the target because it is believed to be the base where the warplanes that carried out the attacks were based. The air base was almost completely destroyed by the airstrikes. The strikes were carried out at a time when the base was experiencing little activities. The missiles also targeted a variety of items to compromise the base’s strength, such as petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers and air defense systems.
The airstrikes by the U.S. prompted international response. The Syrian government has expressed its anger at the airstrikes, claiming the retaliation by the U.S. was unfounded. The Syrian government has stood by its claims that the chemical attacks were carried out by the terrorist organization ISIL. Indeed, the Assad regime even stated that the U.S. airstrikes have essentially aligned the United States with such terrorist organizations who have been attacking Syrian military bases. In addition to Syrian reactions, Russia has also responded. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement condemning the U.S. for the airstrikes. He called the move a violation of international laws through intervention in a sovereign state.
Furthermore, Mr. Putin has voiced his opinion that the U.S. completely disregarded factual information and jumped to the conclusion by attributing the chemical weapons attacks to the Syrian government, exacerbating the already-explosive situation in Syria. Mr. Putin even said that Mr. Trump’s actions have negatively impacted Russia relations with the United States, which have already been poor in recent. To emphasize this point, the Russian government canceled upcoming meetings with U.S. diplomats. These negotiations were supposed to address the issues of in-flight incidents between Russian and the U.S.-led coalition aircraft.
In further response, the Russian government has made known its plans to bolster Syria’s military air defense. Despite these negative responses, Turkey is backing Mr. Trump decision to carry out the airstrikes. As a result of the Syrian civil war, 3 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey. Turkey’s leader sees the strikes as a way of deterring the Syrian government from committing future human rights abuses. The airstrikes have prompted responses from several countries, leaving future actions to be taken in Syria uncertain.