Reports about the conflict in Syria have been increasing in number recently, but the crisis has been escalating for more than two years.
Now that we know without a doubt the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its citizens, the United States must act.
Rebels have been resisting the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad since March 2011. The conflict began with protests and demonstrations but in April 2011, the Syrian army was deployed to crush the uprising. The protests turned into an armed conflict that has erupted into a civil war.
The United Nations estimated more than 100,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since the civil war began.
After an attack near Damascus on Aug. 21, the Syrian government was suspected of using chemical weapons against its own people.
Recent evidence has proven sarin gas was used on Syrian citizens. British military scientists analyzed soil samples and clothing from a patient treated for chemical weapons exposure. The British government said the samples contained traces of sarin gas.
Sarin gas is a man-made toxin, originally used as a pesticide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the gas can be spread through the air. People can be exposed by skin contact or by breathing it in. It mixes easily with water and contaminates food and clothing.
The symptoms of sarin poisoning can begin within seconds. Smaller doses will cause blurred vision, abdominal pain, nausea, weakness, confusion and headaches. A large dose can cause loss of consciousness, paralysis, convulsions and respiratory failure, which can lead to death. Severely exposed people are less likely to survive.
According to CNN, U.S. officials said 1,400 people were killed in the Aug. 21 attack. They said many children were among the dead.
The responsibility of the government is to protect the country’s citizens. Using the army to suppress their cries for a change is bad enough. To use a deadly nerve gas with the purpose of exterminating them is unthinkable. It’s cruel, inhumane and unforgivable.
This type of weapon does not distinguish the rebels who oppose the government from ordinary citizens. Everyone was a target.
Now that there is no doubt a chemical weapon was used on Syrian citizens, the U.S. should respond with military force.
On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to allow President Obama to use limited force against Syria. The parameters of the resolution would limit hostilities to 60-90 days, troops would be prohibited from setting foot on Syrian soil and military action to Syria’s border would be limited.
The argument can be made that we should mind our own business. People might believe we shouldn’t get involved in another country’s conflict.
While it might not be the duty of the U.S. to save the world, we cannot ignore the fact that innocent people are suffering and dying. Other countries were willing to help us grow into a stable nation. We can’t turn our backs now.
This conflict will not resolve itself over time. Time has already passed and the situation has only gotten worse. Innocent people are paying the price.
If there is anything we can do, any measures we can take to staunch the violence, we should take them.