Millions have been displaced in the seven years since pro-democracy protests in Syria exploded into a full-fledged civil war.
Pentagon officials called the weekend’s strikes a “very serious blow” at “the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program.”
Trump also authorized strikes in Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons last year. In April 2017, the U.S. fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles in response to what it believes was a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people.
Hamza Abu Bassam, who fled to Idlib two weeks ago from eastern Ghouta along with his baby son, said he’s optimistic that the latest strikes will send a message to Assad.
“The Syrian regime needs to know that we have allies as well, and that if they use chemical weapons against civilians, it will be punished,” he said.
However, some questioned the lack of action by President Barack Obama following another chemical weapons attack in 2013, who had previously stated that the use of them represented a “red line.”
“We were all waiting for an international coalition against Bashar al-Assad,” said Layla Qabash, 34, who was evacuated from eastern Ghouta to Idlib two weeks ago with her two young children. Her husband was killed in January 2017. “I thought that the world will not be silent. I was sure that they will fight for the free people in Syria. I thought that the U.S. will help us that time.”
She added that Obama’s decision “let us all down and gave hope and a green light to the Syrian regime.”
Qabash praised Trump for launching the airstrikes, saying they left her “very happy.”
And while she wasn’t convinced they would have much impact on the Assad regime, Qabash said they “at least gave us hope that there is a free world who will fight with us for our freedom and that we’re not on our own.”