WASHINGTON – A leading American Muslim civil rights groups welcomed on Thursday, April 6, the airstrike on Syrian military facilities by American cruise missiles in response to the recent deadly chemical attack on Syrian civilians that left scores dead and injured.
“This limited attack will not end the ongoing genocide that has resulted in the death, injury, rape, torture, and displacement of millions of innocents Syrians whose only ‘crime’ was seeking freedom and self-determination, but it is a welcome recognition of the genocidal actions carried out for six years by the murderous Assad regime and its allies,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement sent to AboutIslam.net.
“Our nation must now join with its international partners in implementing real measures – not just symbolic or reactionary steps – that will finally help stop the wholesale slaughter and violent displacement of the Syrian people.”
The statement followed a US attack by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield around 3:40 am Friday local time (8:40 pm Thursday ET).
The attack, launched at President Donald Trump’s order, marked the first US military action against government forces during Syria’s six-year civil war.
The reaction, the first by Trump against Bashar Al-Assad, followed the alleged Syrian regime Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people, including children. US missiles struck the Shayrat air base that housed Syrian warplanes blamed for the attack.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump said from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Change of Heart?
Trump’s change of mind came after images of lifeless children killed by sarin were widely shared as yet another symbol of the international community’s failure to help end the bloody civil war.
“When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines,” Trump said.
CAIR said it hopes recent statements by President Trump also signal a reversal of the administration’s negative stance regarding Syrian refugees.
Earlier this week following the deadly gas attack, CAIR called on President Trump to fulfill his promise to establish “safe zones” to protect Syrian civilians.
“The United States must lead an international effort to set up a no-fly zones and safe-zones for civilians, and to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on any individual, group or government that has a role in the continuing genocide.”
The United States started launching airstrikes in Syria in September 2014 under President Barack Obama, but it was said to target only ISIS and not government forces.
Thursday’s attack is being considered as a stark inconsistent with Trump’s February’s executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim majority countries.
The order, which was eventually deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge, proposed to completely ban Syrian refugees from the US for the foreseeable future since their entry is supposedly “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
Some, however, questioned Trump’s executive orders targeting Syrians in particular.
“Trump will go to war in the names of ‘helpless’ Syrian children but refuses to open our borders to save them,” New York City-based author Reshma Saujani tweeted late Thursday. “Mansplain that please?”