“As a Syrian and Assad chemical weapons massacre survivor, I want to thank @POTUS for striking the dictator,” tweeted Kassem Eid, a Syrian now based in Washington DC. “You gave us hope. God bless your sir!”
The spectacle of Syrians thanking Donald Trump for attacking Assad’s military air base after the regime unleashed chemical weapons on civilians may be surreal, but for years, humanitarians have found themselves facing an insurmountable wall whenever intervention is mentioned. Those calling for airdrops to starving Syrians, or a no-fly zone to halt the daily bombardment of rebel-held areas, have first found themselves required to first deny this is the trigger for World War Three.
At a protest against the bombing of Aleppo in late 2016, I found that even most of the British protestors could not stomach the thought of a no-fly zone, if that included the idea that actual force might be used.
But if the shadow of the Iraq War hangs heavy over British public opinion, Donald Trump’s decision, whatever the motivation, dazzles.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon is a former soldier and a chemical weapons expert who has witnessed the atrocities unleashed on Syrian civilians first hand. The first reason he welcomes the air strike is simple – it knocks out bomber planes that otherwise would be merrily unloading on the hospitals he works with in rebel-held areas of northern Syria.
The second is the message that intervention sends. After the news broke, he told me: “This is a good thing. I have been calling for it for a long time, ever since August 2013 when a red line was crossed and we did…
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