Syrian Civil War: What You Need to Know

If you've been following the news the last seven years, then at some point you've seen a story on the destructive civil war that has plagued Syria since March 2011. If you've tried to avoid seeing the torrential bloodshed and unwarranted violence, I will break it down for you. Prior to the start of the war, many citizens of Syria were unhappy with President Bashar al-Assad's leadership because there were high unemployment rates, government corruption and lack of political freedom. After a group of school children were captured and subsequently tortured by the Syrian government for allegedly writing anti-government graffiti on the walls, peaceful protests began in response to the unnecessary violence. Sadly, these protests turned into bloodshed when the government attacked and killed several protestors, essentially sparking the countries civil war. Since then, Syria has been split in two: on one side of the fight is the government backed by Assad and on the other are the rebels, also called Islamic State. The total death toll since the war began is 500,000+, with the meter rising as each day passes. 

Once it was discovered that Syria's government had access to enhanced chemical weaponry, Russia and the U.S came to the mutual agreement that said the Syrian government would give up it's chemical weapons and destroy them so that they'd never be used again. Unfortunately, that agreement fell through after an attack from Assad's regime that left 80 dead, including children. The weapon of choice: chemical. In a hasty response to the attack, Trump launched 59 cruise missiles that targeted the Syrian government’s Shayrat air base. Unfortunately for the U.S president, his actions were met with fierce criticism from his right-wing supporters.  Many people on both sides agreed that it could be a signal of war. 

Just as old habits, military tactics die hard. Last weekend, President Assad allegedly carried out another chemical attack outside of Damascus that left several dozen people dead. Due to this, Trump has threatened an airstrike once again, only this time he's not revealing when. "Very soon or not so soon at all," was Trump's well-thought out answer when asked about when he will send the airstrike. However, as if waiting purposely for Friday the 13th, the U.S along with France and Britain, ordered an official airstrike on Syria. Despite the fact that Russia warned an airstrike may cause a war between two countries, Trump has decided to ignore any threats and move forward with his decision. 

This years assault was twice the size and hit two more targets than last years airstrike ordered by the U.S president. Included in the targets were three of Assad's chemical weapons facility, which are all in highly populated areas. Trump called out the leaders of Syria, Russia and Iran questioning why they would want to be regarded as a country that murders innocent men, women and children. "We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences,” Anatoly Antonov, the ambassador to the United States, said in a statement. “All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.” The ambassador is amongst many others who thought the airstrike would only cause more turmoil. 

In an address to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, relayed a message from Trump regarding future conflict. "If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded," Haley says Trump told her on Saturday morning. With Trumps decision Friday evening to launch missiles, it is obvious his threats are not to be overlooked. With most of the infrastructure and homes destroyed, there is not much left of Syria to attack. Now, in the wake of the airstrike, citizens have gathered near Damascus to protest President Assad. U.S military groups specializing in chemical weapons are currently following up on the facilities targeted to ensure all the weaponry is destroyed.