5 things you need to know about U.S. strike on Syria

Jeff Mays, NewsOne | 4/8/2017, 12:46 p.m.
The attack marks a shift in Trump's and the United State's stance toward Syria which has been engaged in a ...

President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles Thursday at a Syrian military base following the country’s suspected use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed over 100 people.

The attack marks a shift in Trump’s and the United State’s stance toward Syria which has been engaged in a devastating civil war for almost seven years now.

Trump has tweeted over the last few years that the U.S. should not get involved in the Syrian conflict and he criticized President Obama for wanting to initiate possible air strikes.

That all changed with the launch of dozens of missiles.

“When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines,” Trump said, according to CNN.

The U.S. missile strike could have deep implications with Russia already condemning Trump’s actions.

Here’s five facts you need to know about the conflict in Syria.

The current conflict started out as peaceful protests.

The protests were part of what is known as the Arab Spring. In December 2010, protests in Tunisia launched the peaceful protests against autocratic regimes that spread to several other Middle Easter countries, including Syria.

In March 2011, the peaceful protests turned violent after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began a violent crackdown. That lead to rebels organizing to resist al-Assad. Syrian army defectors aligned themselves with many civilians and formed the Free Syrian Army. The violent conflict that took hold in Damascus and the ancient city of Aleppo has spread to many parts of the country.

And now the conflict is growing ever more complicated with the addition of grops such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. many experts believe the Syrian war is also a proxy war between Russia and the United States, reminiscent of the Cold War.

Who is Bashar al-Assad?

Syria’s current leader took control in 2000 following his father’s death after a three decade reign. He is trained as a doctor and was not in line to be the next leader but his older brother died in a car crash.

He was educated in London and gave western governments hope that he would be more moderate. He started down the path, making some reforms before shifting.

How many people have died in the conflict?

The United Nations estimates that more than 400,000 people have died during the bloody civil war. Christy Delafield, a senior communications officer at Mercy Corps, one of the largest humanitarian aid groups helping hundreds of thousands of Syrians with food and other basic necessities, said some of the remaining schools have taken to holding classes literally underground to protect children from airstrikes.

The use of chemical weapons that Trump says prompted the U.S. military response is not the first time the outlawed weapons have been used in Syria.

“The conflict has been unpredictable and continuously changing. There have been air strikes and aerial bombings and there are issues with protection of aid workers. We’ve seen hospitals hit,” Delafield told NewsOne in an interview Friday.