US airstrikes generate mixed feelings among Syria’s opposition

Action against Assad regime welcomed, but many doubt Trump administration has interests of the Syrian people at heart

Syrian opposition fighters and officials, as well as activists and aid workers, say they have mixed feelings about the US airstrikes on a regime airbase, expressing happiness that Bashar al-Assad has been punished for this week’s chemical attack as well as regret that Washington had not acted sooner and ended the war.

Many were sceptical that the Trump administration had the interests of the Syrian people in mind. Some drew a contrast with the Obama administration, saying that as a minimum Donald Trump’s instability would change the status quo.

“Trump is better for Syria than Hillary [Clinton] because he’s honest and insane,” said one rebel fighter in Syria. “Any loss for the regime in whatever shape is a win for us, but of course Trump acted based on the interests of America and not because he loves us.”

Another rebel commander in Idlib province said further crippling of the government’s air force would be needed to quell attacks on civilians and limit the displacement of Syrians fleeing the fighting in the country.

“The matter needs to be followed up because one attack won’t stop the massacres and the displacement,” he said. “America is the most powerful country in the world and it can think and act faster than others and we look forward to the day when this bloodbath ends.”

An aid worker in Hatay in Turkey said: “We Syrians have developed schizophrenia and we don’t know how to express our feelings anymore because they’re always so mixed.

“You find people happy because the regime is being hit but at the same time sadness because you know these are the Americans who let down the Syrian people for more than six years. These feelings are not just directed at America, but at the whole world.”

Trump’s popularity surged among Arab social media users who supported the Tomahawk missile strikes on the Syrian government airbase, with light-hearted memes that ascribed to him the nom de guerre “Abu Ivanka al-Amreeki” (Father of Ivanka, the American) in a manner similar to the names adopted by Syrian rebel fighters as well as militants from Islamic State and al-Qaida.

One image showed a flattering picture of the American president transposed on a Syrian revolution flag that said: “We love you.” Another showed Trump giving a thumbs-up with a caption that said: “How did I do?”

“Maybe some of you hate President Trump, but we love him because he do[es] more than he say[s],” one activist from Aleppo said. “He’s a man of action. At least he did something and [gave] us some hope.”

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Source By https://www.theguardian.com

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