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Syria airstrikes met with mixed reactions

“For those of us studying the region, it’s just another crummy event in a long series of crummy events,” Charles Kurzman, a political sociology professor focused on Muslim society and Middle Eastern studies, said.

But for students with a tie to the conflict in Syria, it was a pivotal moment — one they had been waiting on.

“There was actually a wave of relief from the Syrian-American diaspora. There was a general thought that finally action is being taken — something finally is being done,” senior Savannah Wooten, who currently serves as the student director for STAND, said.

STAND, the Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, is based in Washington, D.C. and works to end genocides and mass atrocities. Wooten said her organization has been focusing intently on Syria.

Samia Daghestani, a Syrian-American student, shared Wooten’s sentiment.

“I must say that (for) the Syrian-American activists here in the United States, it was amazing that finally the United States was standing for its principles and finally the United States was telling the Assad regime ‘That’s enough,’” she said.

Daghestani’s parents were both born in Syria, but left as the opposition was beginning. She said her parents have continued to support the opposition from the United States, and she has followed the revolution closely, even watching as violent acts have happened in her mother’s hometown.

In a statement by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Tillis called Bashar al-Assad a war criminal.

“President Trump decisively responded to Assad’s latest atrocity to help prevent future ones, sending a clear message that when the Syrian regime crosses the red line, America will respond,” Tillis said in the statement.

Daghestani said as a Syrian-American, she was not upset by Trump’s airstrikes like so many Americans were, because she said they were necessary.

“I think people were confused because there were so many negative actions that Donald Trump has taken since he has taken office, so we automatically assume this is a bad thing,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is this is something that the Syrian people and the Syrian-American activists in the U.S. have been asking of their president for years now.”

Now the question for activists like Daghestani and Wooten is what will come next and if more will be done.

“For us, on one hand, it is relieving to see that action is being taken,” Wooten said. “But at the same time, we wonder two things: if this is either a one-and-done strike that won’t be followed up on and provides false hope to Syrians, or if it may lead to military intensification or disproportionate escalation.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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