President Donald Trump made his first major military action on Thursday night by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles at a government airfield near Homs, Syria.
The decision came in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attack on his own citizens on Tuesday.
“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said during an address at Mar-a-Lago after the launch. “It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
The $90 million decision to launch the missiles —without Congressional approval— was uncharacteristic for a leader who has held a staunch opposition to allow Syrian refugees into the country.
In January, Trump signed his Executive Order 13769 also known as the “Muslim-ban” that prevents citizens from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. The war-torn Syria was included on that list.
The controversial legislation has had a plethora of criticism, but through it all, Trump contends that he does not want Syrians in the country. But in the wake of a strike that was carried out under the guise of helping the Syrian people, many are confused at his decision to go to bat for a country whose citizens he won’t accept.
“If Trump just wants Assad to stop using [chemical weapons] but does nothing about sieges, torture & mass executions, then Assad will likely say ‘deal,’” Kristyan Benedict, campaigns manager for Amnesty International UK, tweeted. “Stopping Assad’s chemical attacks has value for sure but [chemical weapons] are just one tool the regime use to terrorize civilians & maintain their power.”
Many took to Twitter to share similar sentiments.
Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, as many as 386,000 people have been killed, including nearly 14,000 children, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The war has become more deadly since foreign powers joined the conflict.
They also estimate that five million Syrians are refugees and 6.3 million are displaced within Syria. Half of those affected are children.
Considering how long the atrocities of this war have been happening, is it truly the chemical attack that motivated Trump to act? Years prior, when President Obama weighed taking action to support Syrian civilians, Trump had quite a different view:
It’s unclear what the next move may be. All eyes are on the American president. His bold choice may have unimaginable consequences, and we can only hope that his administration is ready to responsibly deal with what may come our way.