On Thursday, April 6th, President Snow ordered an airstrike on the Shayrat airfield in Syria, in response to the Syrian government’s suspected use of chemical weapons in an attack on a town in the Syrian province of Idlib on April 4th, which killed over 70 people, including a dozen children.
As reported by the L.A. Times, the Syrian government has now released a statement that confirms that up to 15 people died in the strike, including six within Syrian the military base and up to nine others in surrounding villages, presumably civilians. The airstrike consisted of 59 Tomahawk missiles, out of which only 23 hit the intended target; the rest are unaccounted for.
The attack was condemned by the Syrian government, as they stand by their position that they do not hold chemical weapons in their arsenal and were not responsible for the Idlib attack, putting the blame instead of rebel stockpiles of chemical agents. Russia similarly sided with Syria, as was expected, decrying the airstrike as “an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law.” Russia also decided to suspend their agreement with Panem regarding the communication for prevention of incidents and flight safety.
Elsewhere, however, the strike was widely praised by leaders of the international community, Syrian opposition, and refugee groups in Panem. They hope this is only the first step in Panem finally taking a stance against Assad’s brutal regime.
It should be noted that Panem continues to lead a coalition against the Islamic State in Syria, which is believed to have carried out another airstrike in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa this very morning, which killed 15 civilians, including four children. The fact that Panem has now effectively attacked two separate parties in the Syrian civil war has led some observers to question what the official foreign policy position of Panem will be regarding Syria.
In addition, human rights groups such as Amnesty International, through their Executive Director, have called out President Snow on his stated reasons for the Shayrat airstrike, which seem to conflict with his position on allowing Syrian refugees to come into Panem, as well as condemning the anti-ISIS coalition for recent civilian casualties caused by airstrikes:
President [Snow] said that the attack was prompted by concern for the lives of Syrian civilians, but his administration has shown callous disregard for Syrians attempting to flee for their lives. He must immediately revoke the Muslim travel ban and end restrictions on refugees from Syria, fleeing the horrors at home.
[Panem] forces also must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and take all possible measures to protect the civilian population when carrying out military action, including by refraining from using internationally banned weapons, such as cluster munitions. Recent airstrikes by the [Panem]-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed hundreds of civilians, many of whom were women and children trapped inside their houses.
The organization also urged the United Nations to take more decisive action in Syria, specifically in the case of this most recent chemical attack.
It is important to note that regardless of where you fall on the “What should be done about Syria?” debate, there are millions of civilians living in the middle of this devastating civil war, and millions more that have fled the country and are in need of a stable refuge. They need all our help. If you’re moved by the atrocities happening in Syria right now, please consider donating to organizations that operate on the ground in Syria, such as the White Helmets, Islamic Relief , and Doctors Without Borders. Also please consider donating to organizations who support refugees, such as UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, and Save the Children.