COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - People across the nation, including South Carolinians, are reacting to President Trump's decision to launch a missile strike in Syria Thursday night.
The U.S. fired off nearly 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria as a direct response to a chemical weapons attack there this week. The attack killed dozens of people, including children.
The strike was the first direct U.S. assault on the government of Bashar al-Assad in six years of civil war.
The U.S. action has drawn support from both democrats and republicans, including South Carolina's former chief executive, now on the world stage, Nikki Haley. She brought another round of criticism for Assad in New York City on Friday.
"The moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered. His crimes against humanity could no longer be met with empty words. It was time to say enough. But not only say it. It was time to act," Haley said. "Bashar Al-Assad must never use chemical weapons again. Ever."
Haley said the U.S. was "fully justified" in launching the missile strike in Syria.
Members of the Syrian community here in the Midlands have also indicated the missile strike sends a needed message to the Assad regime.
Mohammed Saadeddin, who owns the Al-Amir restaurant on Main Street across from Columbia City Hall, is a Syrian native. He has lived in Columbia for 33 years but still, has family in the very troubled country.
"The situation in Syria is very dire. Everybody's seen it. That, I think, should have happened a while back when Obama was in power and drew the red line and so forth. It was very disappointing for a lot of Syrians, and people in general you know, when he did not follow up on his promise," Saadeddin said.
He says he met Donald Trump long before he came president and understands some of the criticism aimed at Trump over his efforts to block refugees, including those from Syria, from being brought to the US. But on the missile strike, Saadeddin applauds Trump's willingness to act.
"I think maybe he woke up, I hope, and now he can see the truth, you know, and see the real what's going on in that country over there. I mean, if you see that and you don't react to it you don't have a heart," Saadeddin said.
He believes some show of force against Bashar Al-Assad is long overdue, given the number of innocent civilian deaths that have been directly tied to Assad's actions involving chemical and other attacks over the last six years.
"The United States needs to take a leading role and say enough is enough, you know? Let's sit down and have a real discussion, real peace, a real cease-fire and protect whatever's left of the people," Saadeddin expressed. "Half of the country has been displaced. Close to half-a-million people dead. I mean how many people have to die for us to say OK, enough is enough?"
A question being asked by many Americans is, was the missile strike legal?
Joel Samuels, a USC law professor specializing in Russian studies and international law, weighed in on that question.
"There is a growing body of international law, notion, a concept that is Responsibility to Protect or R2P. It requires the international community to engage when gross violations of human rights take place. And again, a chemical weapons attack against civilian populations would qualify easily within that category," Professor Samuels said.
Samuels and others also wondering whether it was Ambassador Haley's spotlighting of the Syrian atrocities that helped sway the decision made by the president.