Islamist rebels are praising the U.S. airstrike against a Syrian airbase Thursday as a “positive development” in their fight against the Assad government.
Labib al-Nahhas, foreign political relations head for Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist rebel group in the region, heralded the attacks while calling for further U.S. intervention.
“It is definitely a positive development, but it has been very limited so far, and we need to wait and see the next step that U.S. administration will take,” Nahhas said.
Nahhas argued the strikes formerly put Assad “on notice,” though it remained unclear whether the attack signaled a shift in President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
“It is too early to assess if these are symbolic strikes or a true shift in policy, but they have definitely put the Assad regime on notice,” Nahhas said.
The Islamist rebel, who now fears retaliation from the Syrian government, called for the strikes to be backed up by further action including “political pressure.”
“If the U.S. response stops at this point, then we should expect a brutal retaliation from the Assad regime on (opposition-held) areas, and more innocent civilians will be killed,” Nahhas said. “The message delivered by these strikes must be reinforced with political pressure on the regime allies.”
According to U.S. officials 59 Tomahawk missiles launched from two Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean sea successfully struck numerous targets at the Shayrat airbase including a runway, multiple aircraft and fuel pumps.
The airstrike, which reportedly took the lives of several Syrian military members, was in response to a chemical weapons attack Tuesday in the Idlib province that resulted in at least 85 deaths.
President Donald Trump asserted in a statement late Thursday that he had no doubt that the Syrian government was responsible for the Sarin gas attack and that it originated from Shayrat.
“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council,” Trump said.
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