Escalation in Syria prompts US response

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On April 4, Facebook timelines became flooded with images of injured Syrian civilians before social media outlets started filtering posts in response to the latest deadly attacks on Syria. As physically distant as these attacks may have been from the US, families with relatives in Syria were still affected by tragedies overseas.

In the northwest Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun—which lies between Homs and Aleppo, both of which have been targets of similar attacks—a chemical attack was carried out, killing an estimated 100-plus civilians, 20 of which were reportedly children. According to The New York Times, the Syrian government—specifically Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—has been accused of being the instigator of the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

As photos of injured children began to surface, there was another strike that reinforced the terror civilians were already encountering in their homes across Syria. Three days after the chemical attack, the US launched an air raid on a Syrian military airbase in Homs. The airbase was purportedly involved in the chemical attack.

Amal Kassir, a recent CU Denver graduate, Syrian-American spoken word poet, and activist spoke at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to share what her family endured during the deadly air raids in the Ghouta region. She had discovered that her family had been killed in the attacks.

“We lost 10 members of our family yesterday,” Kassir said during her presentation on the Millennium stage. “We lost 10 people yesterday all in one bombing. We lost my aunt, her three daughters—one of which had a baby in her arms who also passed away. Then it was her daughter-in-law, who was pregnant—let’s add two there—then it was her mother-in-law, her niece, it was my cousin’s two-year-old son, and I’m missing somebody.”

According to Amnesty International, there are still 400,000 Syrian civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta due to the constant bombings unleashed by the Syrian government, some of which are still happening over a week later today.

Kassir described 120 bombs being released upon her relatives’ hometown, not knowing that another detonation was soon to come.

“My grandmother hasn’t lost a child in 28 years and she can’t utter a word right now,” Kassir said.

Kassir’s father Mahmoud shared his feelings on the attack that impacted his family: “It’s like a nightmare and you’re just waking up and wondering ‘is this real?’” M. Kassir said.

Kassir brought feelings of prosperity and justice to the stage. “As my heart broke, I have no doubt in my mind that there are some people in this audience that have broken hearts too,” Kassir said. “We’re supposed to handle these things as a humanity. No one can survive these things alone.”

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