Victims of the Syrian War to President Trump: “Stop the War”

After the US missile strike, many members of the Syrian opposition conveyed their support for the strike and their hope that the United States continues with more. Their statements send a clear message to President Bashar al-Assad that the most important thing to them is ending the war and their suffering.

A victim from Khan Shaykhun named Lina al-Yusef wanted to send a message saying: “Mr. President, our hearts rejoiced at what you did. Please continue your good deed and working with us. This war is tied to Bashar al-Assad being in power. I do not know why they bombed our neighborhood in Khan Shaykhun, as there are no weapons whatsoever here. To the contrary, our little neighborhood is one of the safest in the city. If you carefully examine the victim’s names you will see that they are many displaced peoples from towns like the neighboring city of Morek. Indeed, these were completely innocent civilians. Images of the massacre will be stuck in my mind until the day I die. I am unable to live a normal life and will surely suffer from the consequences of breathing in that poisonous gas until it eventually takes my own life, perhaps sooner rather than later. Over twenty members of my family were killed, the majority of whom were women and children. These warplanes have committed dozens of massacres in my country.” The letter addressed to the world implored: “Please stand with the oppressed people of Syria. We do not want Assad. Force him to step down. What have women and children done to deserve this? What have I done to deserve this?”

A falafel vendor from Idlib wrote on his restaurant the name “TRUMP” once President Donald Trump changed his position on Bashar al-Assad after the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun south of Idlib. Syrians opposed to Assad welcomed the missile strike on Shayrat Airbase, which houses aircraft carrying chemical weapons. Bana Alabed, who had been a victim of the blockade on Aleppo, tweeted: “We do not want World War III. We do not want war in Syria. Let us all work together to end the wars.”

Dr. Abdullah Darwish, director of the Hama Health Directorate, said: “I am a doctor and have treated and examined dozens of cases of chlorine and sarin gas inhalation. I am proud of everyone who punishes criminals and hope that President Trump helps bring an end to the killing in Syria, in all of its forms.” Meanwhile, Maher Esber, a former inmate at Sednaya Prison, commented on what happened saying that it will slow the regime’s behavior until a political agreement is reached.

Trump’s actions have arguably reduced the confidence gap between the international community and the Syrian people. However, the Syrian regime has intensified air strikes soon after the US military strike, as if in response and as though Syrian citizens were the ones to launch the missiles. The Syrian regime continues to claim that it is fighting terrorism, however with Idlib’s population roughly three million (per unofficial counts) and the number of armed military personnel is no more than forty thousand. The question on the minds of every man, woman, or child is ‘am I a terrorist?’

Mohammad Kadour, a young man in his early twenties, was shot thirteen times by regime soldiers, causing him to lose his right leg. “While I am currently far away from my country, I have heard about the US strike on the military airport used by warplanes that bomb civilians. I am happy; they are entirely capable of ending the war and finishing off Assad by either military or political means, for Assad knows not the language of dialogue. I am a Syrian citizen who has suffered badly at the hands of the regime.”

Some Alawites know that the Syrian regime is responsible for the chemical air strikes and that no aircraft can take off unbeknownst to the senior leadership, namely Assad himself. While some of these individuals have supported what Assad has done, others have felt the opposite and rejoiced at Trump’s action. An Alawite woman from Latakia stated via Skype: “Finally, Trump has done something useful in Syria. This strike is a step towards ending the war in Syria.”

Bouthaina Shaaban, Assad’s official spokesperson, said that whoever supports the US airstrike is a “traitor.” Many Syrians question how using chemical weapons against civilians is patriotic. Through its war on the Syrian people, the regime has failed to kill people’s humanity. There are thousands of people residing in regime-held areas who realize that Assad is a war criminal and that the crimes of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) closely resemble those carried out by Assad in regime prisons. The message that Syrians who spoke to SyriaSource want the world to realize is that the regime allowed ISIS to flourish. If the regime gets away with chemical weapons attacks, it inspires ISIS to also use banned weapons and commit crimes of the same style and character. In this way, President Trump’s war on terror must target all sponsors of terrorist acts, to truly stop terrorism.

Russia and Syria resumed air strike attacks after the US strike. Approximately fifteen civilians were killed in the past few hours. A woman and others who remained in Khan Shaykhun were killed in air strikes carried out by Russian and Syrian warplanes. Local sources report that napalm was used in one of the air strikes on the village of al-Lataminah in the Hama countryside.

Statistics from the past few years indicate that the number of Syrians killed in the war or disappeared in regime prisons exceeds half a million. Another four hundred thousand have been disfigured or disabled, including thousands of women, children, and elderly. Turkish cities, particularly the city of Reyhanlı near the Syrian border, are flooded with hundreds of these disabled people. While Khan Shaykhun is currently empty of inhabitants, Lina al-Yusef insists on staying and says that nobody can make her leave. She explains, “I will remain until the pain goes away.” Meanwhile, Dr. Abdullah remains to treat them. As for Mohammed Darwish, he is currently living in Istanbul completing his studies in the field of media. Maintaining that the Syria issue requires media support, he believes that there will be no solution until an accurate picture of the crisis reaches all people across the world.

Saleem al-Omar is a freelance journalist who has written for Al-Jazeera, Alquds Alarabi Newspaper, Arabi 21, and Syria Deeply.

Image: Photo: A man who identified himself as a Syrian refugee speaks in favour of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to launch attacks against Syrian targets, during a demonstration organised by the Stop the War Coalition in central London, Britain April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay