On April 4, the release of chemical agents in the Syrian province of Idlib caused a tragedy that prompted President Trump to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles. The air strike targeted a government airfield in the war-torn nation.
Early reports from Idlib, an area controlled by al-Qaeda terrorists, included a death toll of at least 58 people. At least eleven victims were children. As images of the aftermath were splashed across social media and eyewitness accounts poured out of the region, the devastation became impossible to ignore.
Following an investigation, the Turkish Ministry of Health concluded that the chemical released was sarin. Sarin gas is a nerve agent that causes swift death due to lung paralysis.
A Change in Tactics
This is not the first time that Assad’s regime has been accused of similar war crimes. Back in 2013, Donald Trump publicly spoke out against intervention in a series of tweets. Throughout the following years, Trump remained relatively consistent in his reluctance to commit American forces to the conflict.
President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your “powder” for another (and more important) day!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2013
He was consistent, that is, until Tuesday’s attack, which shifted the trajectory of President Trump’s policies towards Syria.
On Thursday night, the world watched Trump’s Syria policy evolve in real time as U.S. forces struck Shayrat Air Base. According to American intelligence officials, this site was targeted because it was the origin of the planes that caused the devastation in Idlib province, and because it contained a facility used to store chemical weapons.
The World’s Response
As with any military action, this strike has the potential to trigger unintended consequences. Was it a necessary move to save civilian lives and project strength, or was it needless aggression?
As a result of this uncertainty, reactions to the strike were predictably divided.
Many of President Trump’s supporters, who favored his noninterventionist rhetoric during the campaign, strongly condemned the action on social media. Conversely, those on the other side of the issue praised the President. One outspoken “Never Trumper,” Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, stated in the aftermath that it was “best day so far of the Trump presidency.”
Regardless of where you fall on the ideological divide, it’s clear that this airstrike sends a decisive message. The era of unenforced red lines and broken promises is over.