Between War and Peace: When Life Hangs in the Balance
In a time of a tumultuous presidency in the U.S., terrorism has been at the forefront of every American's mind. However, is it not the States, this time, that need worry of attacks from the air. On April 3, 2017, Syria experienced one of the worst chemical bombings in its nation. The Northern rebel-held area became a toxic kill zone, due to international outrage over the increasing government impunity the country has shown over the last six-year war.
According to the New York Times, the gas spread after warplanes dropped bombs containing deadly gasses, in the early morning hours. Unsuspecting Syrian's breathed in what is thought to have been a nerve agent or other banned chemicals. Live images flooded the pages of Facebook showing many people, including children, dying as they foamed at the mouth, gasping for air.
Immediately after the attack the Health Department in Idlib Province, where the bombing took place, provided a list of names of the 69 people that had died. However, humanitarian groups were still identifying bodies, saying as many as 100 people may have died.
Paying the Deepest Price
The White House and United Kingdom (UK) are blaming the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime for the airstrike on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the early morning hours, while many still slept. Syria has denied using chemical weapons, instead, saying that deaths resulted from a weapons factory on the ground, which the regime airstrike hit, leading to the gasses being released. However, witnesses on the Turkish side of the border say different. They told CNN that they saw the chemical bombs dropped from the air.
However, witnesses on the Turkish side of the border say different. They told CNN that they saw the chemical bombs dropped from the air. In correspondence with witnesses account the World Health Organization said the victims bore signs of exposure to nerve gas agents. Also, in alignment with the attack being chemical, is Amnesty International, stating there is evidence that the bombs launched, were chemical ones.
Though war seems to be the way the human race solves its problems, it is an attack such as the one in Syria that makes the hearts of the world want to reach out and surround them with helping hands. The faces of dying children laying on the ground struggling to take their next breath sent outrage across seas and around the world.
Images of Syrian's young citizens receiving treatment in the Idlib province hospital strikes the heart cords of even the toughest of people. A 13-year-old boy by the name of Mazin Yusif is shown crying at the Reyhanli Hospital in southern Turkey as he told his cringe-worthy story of his account of the suspected chemical airstrike.
At 6:30 in the morning, the plane struck. I ran up on our roof and saw that the strike was in front of my grandfather's house.
Mazin said he ran to his grandfather's house and found him slumped over. The young boy then said he ran outside to call for help.
I got dizzy and then fainted in front of my grandfather's garage. I next found myself here in this hospital, naked in a bed.
The boy's grandmother Aisha al-Tilawi, 55, was also sent to the hospital. Aisha said she saw yellow and blue after the plane dropped what is thought to be a chemical-laden bomb. She went on to state that she lost three of her family members in the attack as she lay in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask on her face.
We started choking, felt dizzy, then fainted. Mazin was trying to wake up his grandfather. Three of my family died.
Another victim named Ahmed Abdel Rahim, 31, he did not know where his family was after the attack. As reported by CNN, he stared blankly from his hospital bed as he explained being hit by poisonous gasses that were carried by three rockets.
I was in my house. I had difficulty breathing, but I feel better now. But I did throw up after getting to the hospital. I don't know if my family is dead or alive. I don't know anything.
However, the most traumatizing images, of the casualties of the Syrian airstrike, were the repeated showings of a young father, Abdel Hamed al-Youssef, 29, holding his dead 9-month-old twins. The bereaved father tearfully said to his babies:
Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye.
Not only did Abdel lose his babies, but he also lost his wife and 22 of his relatives. In a heart-wrenching account of his losses, the young father is shown burying his twins next to his wife and other relatives in a mass gravesite.
According to the New York Post, Abdel asked his cousin to film his goodbyes to his boy and girl, Aya and Ahmed, as they were headed to the burial site. At the gravesite, the young father was being held up by two other men as he cried for his losses and pointed at the newly dug graves of his family.
We buried them. I took Ahmed and Aya and buried them with my brothers. I buried my kids with my own hands. My wife and my brothers. My Aya … my Aya! Take care of the kids, Dalal. I told them I would never ever leave them, my loves.
A relative of Abdel, an English teacher, Aya Fadl, 25, stated she fled from her house with her 20-month-old son searching for safety from the toxic chemicals. She said the air became thick, it did not smell bad, but was hard to breathe. As she ran for safety, she accounts being horrified when she came upon a truck filled with bodies.
Fighting Fire With Fire
In a world were human beings fight fire with fire, the chemical bombing of Syria did not go unnoticed by the U.S. President Donald Trump order 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at a Syrian airbase on Friday, April 7, 2017, where the chemical weapons attack came from.
Trump is already receiving backlash from his critics saying it was a reckless move and, that American involvement in the Syrian war is an unwise move. Some say, "why involve ourselves in a war that is not ours? We're only asking for retaliation."
However, the president's supporters are celebrating his attack, saying it is a "sign of American resolve, which has been missing for eight years." They are also saying it is a "message to the bad guys."
But, if it is looked at from a loss of lives point of view it can be broke down like this:
- The chemical attack on Syria caused, in its wake, nearly a 72 innocent lives, including 20 children.
- The U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base has reportedly killed nine innocent lives, including four children.
- Six servicemen, none of them Russian, are said have been killed.
Since when is it okay to fire any weapon into an area where it is not known whether innocent lives, especially children are?
The UK is offering their full support to the attack which came from U.S. ships in the Mediterranean. On the flip side Russia is calling the attack:
Aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.
A Vladimir Putin's spokesperson said he believed the U.S. carried out the strikes under a "far-fetched pretext." On the other side of the coin, a No 10 spokeswoman stated that the UK government is in support of the U.S. and their actions. She went on to say that they believe it was appropriate in response to the "barbaric" chemical weapons airstrike, that it was intended to deter any more attacks.
Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, gave confirmation he was given notice of the strikes but was not asked to get involved.
Consequently, the risk of military escalation with Russia is of utmost importance. Repeated objections for a U.S. military attack on Assad regime have been a focal point for years. Moreover, retaliation would be likely if U.S. strikes were to kill Russian military personal, which is also located with the Syrian military personnel. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, says Moscow was notified of the attack ahead of time. This was done for the sole purpose of de-confliction.
By Tracy Blake
The New York Times: Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad
The New York Post: Man buries twin babies and wife killed in Syria gas attack
CNN: Survivors of Syrian attack describe chemical bombs falling from sky
Top Image Courtesy of Karl Ludwig Poggemann's Flickr Page - Creative Commons License
Second Image Courtesy of Codice Tuna Colectivo de Arte's Flickr Page - Creative Commons License
Third Image Courtesy of IoSonoUnaFotoCamera's Flickr Page - Creative Commons License