Lebanese show mixed reactions to US strike on Syria

BEIRUT: Lebanese citizens voiced a spectrum of reactions over the U.S. missile strike on Syria ranging from accusations of American warmongering to support for retaliation to this week’s deadly chemical attack in Idlib province.

Expressing humanitarian concern, Dr. Hassan Al Ghadban told Annahar “I am against all destructive acts that are cruel to human beings. Especially towards innocent civilians!!!”

While Mahmoud Micheal Al-Mohammad was skeptical of the Assad regime’s role in the deadly chemical attack this week, noting, ” If they are accusing the army of chemical attacks, then from personal experience after going to Syria, it is all a lie… They are doing whatever they can to make the army appear guilty….I’m not with or against the army, but I believe they (America) should stay out of it, and fix their own problems and attack terrorists instead.”

The cruise missile strike on the Shayrat military air base, southeast of Homs, was launched early Friday morning after the Trump administration established a Syrian regime role in a chemical attack that killed nearly 75 people in the city of Khan Sheikhoun, in the rebel-held Idlib province.

The US was on the verge of a similar strike three-and-half years ago under the Obama administration, when a deal was brokered with Russian facilitation for the Syrian military to remove under international observation what was thought to be the entire regime supply of chemical weapons.

Analysts have noted that President Bashar Assad pushed his luck beyond international acceptance with the attack this week, though both the regime and Russia dispute the regime’s role in the attack.

While Syria, Russia, and Iran denounced the US missile strike, the majority of world countries said that it was a positive military move that would serve as warning against the use of banned weapons.

What happens next by either the Syria, Russian or US side remains to be seen, with the situation possibly escalating.

For Othman Moussa, who is half Syrian, half Moroccan, and resides in Lebanon, while expressing disinterest in the war, nevertheless added, “I believe that Syria deserves what it’s getting. What they are doing is all wrong.”

He added cynically, the Syria is also acting as a testing ground for weapons by Russia, American and other players involved in the war. “Now is just the time for Syria to be attacked. Until they find another country to try out their weapons on, Syria is their map and their area for experimenting weapons.

While Khaled Dabbous said there was no proof of a regime role in the chemical attack.

“The strike was made on the airport which is said to be the one that hosted the crafts which were responsible for the toxic bombing. Even though there is no evidence of the claim,” Dabbous said. “The strike that was committed yesterday was more of a game-changing political image for Trump than it was a humanitarian action. So it’s more of a show which aims to make Trump as a hero for ordering the strike.

Ghina Yammout made a historical comparison, telling Annahar, “They’re doing the same thing they did to Iraq.”

Jad Jawhar decried war in general, noting, “There is no such thing as humanity left in the world.”

In much the same spirit, Khaled Jaber told Annahar, “It’s just history repeating itself with death around the corner! And people praying for God to save them.”

But for Tamara Jamaleddine the regime had gone too far, noting “They deserve it! I hope a …..Missile hits Bashar Al Assad right between the eyes.”

But yet another skeptic, Kassem Chaaitly said, “They are only giving reasons to allow soldiers to enter Syria, and included in these reasons is the fake massacre that was created to attack an air force base.”

And in a similar spirit, Essamar Bou Moghlebay told Annahar, “I think America should mind its own business!”

Another commenter also thought the regime should be held to account.

Khaled Alameddine, told Annahar, “The Syrian regime should pay for the chemical attack, it should be held accountable.”

Amid the many reactions of citizens, the Lebanese government has issued no official statement on the strike, while members of Parliament commenting off the record noted the difficult political position of the Levant in taking clear sides.

The majority of world leaders, on the other hand, stood behind the U.S.’s decision to strike the Assad regime controlled airbase. The likes of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who support Syrian opposition fighters, welcomed the attack, with Riyadh labeling it as a “courageous decision” by President Donald Trump.

Iran, who is a strong backer of the Assad regime, considered the attack to further complicate the conflict. On the other hand, the British government stood with the strike, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s office saying the action was “an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.” France, Italy, and Israel also welcomed the strikes.