The United States fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, U.S. officials said.
Tarif Jaber was in his living room relaxing after dinner when he answered the phone Thursday and heard his daughter say the one sentence he had been waiting to hear for years.
“She said, ‘Dad, the United States finally stood up for what was right,’ ” he said. “And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ ”
Dina Jaber is in Grenada studying medicine. She told her father, who lives in Scottsdale, the United States had launched missiles against Syria.
Tarif Jaber is from Syria. He’s lived in Arizona for years and owns a civil-engineering firm. Listening to his daughter, Jaber said he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He could not believe what she was saying, not after all these years, not after all the Syrians who have died, not until he saw for himself.
He turned on the television news. He saw the headline and stared at the video showing U.S. Tomahawk missiles launch in blinding light and swirls of smoke.
“I said, ‘Those are the 50 Tomahawk missiles that Obama was supposed to send long ago,’ ” he said. “Assad deserves those, and had Obama done the same thing five years ago, we would not have to be here, we would not have the killings, we would not have the refugees we’ve had.”
Jaber and his family have spent the past few years helping to resettle Syrian refugees in Arizona. He has watched people from his native country try to rebuild their lives after escaping death and losing their loved ones in the Syrian war.
‘You saw the horror of this’
Jaber said he has not been able to shake images of scores of people, many of them who died and hundreds who were sickened in the Syrian chemical attack.
“You saw the horror of this, the kids choking, gasping for life,” he said. “There was no reason for this.”
Jaber said he does not support President Donald Trump’s policies on banning refugees, but he chooses to separate those policies from actions he believes were overdue.
“People can speculate on why Trump is doing this, maybe he’s doing this for different reasons, maybe for himself, but the action is what really matters,” he said. “This is what should have happened a long time ago, to show the world the United States does care.”
Jaber said he thinks about the attack not just as a Syrian, but as a U.S. citizen.
“As an American, I feel that we have shown the world that we still stand for what is right and we can reclaim our position as the leaders of the free world,” he said.
Jaber said he will continue his work to help Syrian refugees build lives in Arizona, and he hopes the military strike will end Syrian government attacks on the nation’s people. This week, he spoke with his sister, who still lives in Syria and whose husband has family in the town where the chemical attack took place.
He said two family members were sickened by the gas but are recovering after fleeing to a nearby town.
“It is an emotional message that I’d like to share and that’s what people from my country tell me,” he said. “Those people who you see who are dying — this is not a movie, these are real people, real moms and dads losing their sons and daughters, losing their kids right in front of their eyes. How would you feel if that was your child?
“lf I could bring one human message to people: Please, please, please let’s put politics aside, let’s put religion aside, let’s put nationalities aside — this is a criminal dictatorship that has no respect for no one,” he said. “It is time that we as Americans take our stance. We always stood up as the humanitarian nation. That’s what I ask all Americans to do, be the people who don’t stand by and let this horror happen.”
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