In the early hours of the 7th April, Donald Trump ordered an airstrike targeting an airfield in central Syria in what he claimed was retaliation for a gruesome sarin gas attack that killed over 80 people (mostly children) that was said to have been carried out by President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Despite being involved in a militarised coalition effort in Syria for the last few years, Donald Trump’s actions are the first instance of the US directly targeting the Syrian regime and signals a dramatic change from his stance of non intervention against Assad.
Supported by the UK and Saudi Arabia amongst others, the attack on the Syrian airfield sparked global attention and a lot of apprehension over the potential geopolitical ramifications it could cause considering Russia’s involvement and support for Assad.
Trump’s decision to openly aggress upon Assad in this way has brought about reaction and condemnation from politicians, journalists and faith leaders across the world who are voicing their skepticism over the motivations behind Trump’s decision to act in this way and over the genuine fear that this could lead to a further escalation of violence and bloodshed in an already war ravaged Middle East.
The Syria crisis has already witnessed the greatest humanitarian disaster and displacement of people since the second World War and it is feared that the ramifications of the attack on a Syrian government airfield will lead to a growth in refugees and an intensification of the ongoing civil war.
Whilst their is a consensus that the removal of Assad from the helm of Syria is imperative, seeking to go about it by risking a full scale military war between major nations is something that cannot be condoned. Yes, Assad must be held to account for the treatment of his own people, in particular for breaching all concepts of morals and legal precedent with the latest chemical attack in Idlib, but it must take place in a context that puts the safety and security of the Syrian people first.
As this latest development in the Syria conflict continues to unfold, we continue to pray for the safety of the Syrians, for an ease to their suffering and for common sense to prevail.