'Finish the fighting': Syrian families living in Winnipeg react to U.S.-led airstrikes

'Finish the fighting': Syrian families living in Winnipeg react to U.S.-led airstrikes

There is a mix of outrage and optimism to the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria's government among Winnipeg's Syrian community.

The U.S., Britain and France launched joint airstrikes on Syria early Saturday in retaliation for a suspected chemical-weapons attack that killed 43 people and injured hundreds more in a rebel-held enclave near Damascus April 7.

Magdi Alsliman is originally from Syria and immigrated to Winnipeg two years ago with her husband and their four children after their home in Palmyra was destroyed by bombing in 2013.

Alsliman holds Syrian president Bashar al-Assad responsible for the deaths of her brother and her husband's brother and is hopeful the airstrikes lead to an end to the fighting.

"When I hear the U.S. hit my country first I'm sad, but I'm thinking maybe this help to finish the fighting in Syria," she told CBC News Sunday.

While her children are safe living in Winnipeg, Alsliman says she thinks of others — like her sister's children still living in Damascus — as she watches news coverage of the suspected chemical-weapons attack and the U.S.-led  airstrike.

"I love my country but I would like to finish this," she said.

'Violence will never stop violence'

Karwan Kahil, his wife Shler Ali and their daughter have called Winnipeg home for nearly two years after fleeing Damascus following an airstrike in 2012.

Ali says watching the on-going violence in her home country has been a difficult reminder of what the family left behind.

"We had like, how you say, street wars, guns everywhere, still I feel it was a miracle that we could leave safe — me my husband and my daughter," she said, adding she fears nothing has changed in the time they've lived in Winnipeg. "The chemical attack is very bad, but, for me killing is killing.

"So if you kill by a knife it's OK? If you kill by chemical it's not OK? Our people are suffering from a long time ago. I feel very sorry for them. I feel lucky or blessed that I could leave safely."

Ali has little hope the U.S.-led retaliation against the chemical warfare will bring peace — especially after the couple watched video of al-Assad returning to work Saturday morning.

"Violence will never stop violence, that's what I believe," she said.

"I wish that one day I will close my eyes and see that it was a nightmare, and nothing happened in Syria."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined leaders from Australia and Israel in voicing their support of the U.S.-led attacks, as has Saudi Arabia and its allies.

But other nations denounced the attack.

Iran, a key ally of Syria, condemned the strikes, saying no country has a right to take punitive measures against another "beyond international procedures."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all Security Council members to use restraint but said charges of chemical weapons use demand investigation.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis called on world leaders to renew efforts to bring peace to Syria, saying he was deeply troubled by their failure to agree on a joint plan to end the bloodshed.