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Syria: Khan Sheikhun Families Grateful for US Strikes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrians bury the bodies of victims of a a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on April 5, 2017 (AFP Photo/FADI AL-HALABI

In Syria’s town of Khan Sheikhun, situated in the southern Idlib Governorate, site of an alleged chemical weapons attack, residents still mourning their dead.

Early on Friday, the families of victims welcomed United States strikes as a way to pressure regime authoritarian Bashar al-Assad.

“God bless Trump,” said Abu Ali, in his forties, hours after the US launched a barrage of cruise missiles at a Syrian regime air base in the central Homs province.

“God willing, these strikes will be a clear warning to (regime head) Bashar al-Assad, to tell him: Bashar, enough killing and injustice against these people,” he told AFP.

The attack ordered by President Donald Trump was the first direct US military action against Syria’s regime since the conflict began six years ago.

It came after a devastating suspected chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday that killed at least 86 people, among them 30 children, and left hundreds suffering symptoms including convulsions, vomiting or foaming at the mouth.

On Friday, the neighborhood hit in the attack remained empty, with survivors decamping to other parts of the rebel-held town in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Across the town, there was little foot traffic or other movement, with relatives of those who perished still receiving condolences at halls.

Amidst the quiet and the sadness, residents said they welcomed the American attacks.

“We consider these strikes not only as a reaction, but a way to avenge the blood of the martyrs who fell here in Khan Sheikhun,” said Haj Kassar, a merchant in his fifties.

“They’re above us, threatening us again,” he said, as warplanes circled overhead, carrying out at least one strike outside the town.