Protesters at U.S. embassy in Ottawa denounce airstrikes in Syria

Dozens of people took part in a demonstration at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa Saturday to denounce that country's missile assault on Syria this week and Canada's support of the military intervention. 

Close to 60 people, some of whom call Syria their home, waved placards and shouted from Sussex Drive during the peaceful demonstration in opposition to the attack.

On Thursday, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in central Syria, one that U.S. officials say was the originating point for military planes involved in a gas attack that killed more than 80 Syrian civilians.

After ordering the attack on Syria, President Donald Trump said the action was in the interest of national security and was undertaken to "prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."

Kevin Skerett, a member of the Nowar-Paix group that organized the Ottawa protest, criticized Prime Minster Justin Trudeau for publicly supporting the airstrikes. 

"If anything has been learned in the last 15 years, it is that NATO and U.S. military interventions have not helped the people of the region to build a democratic state," Skerrett told Radio-Canada at the demonstration. 

"It's the contrary," he said in French. "These military interventions are devastating."

The demonstrators urged Canada and the U.S. to halt any further military intervention in Syria and to leave the crisis in the hands of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

"The government of Syria is beating the terrorists," said Louis Lang, who helped organize the rally, in French. "It is gaining victories against the armed Islamic State and al-Qaeda."

Trudeau said Wednesday he fully supports the "limited and focused action to degrade the Syrian regime's ability to conduct chemical weapons attacks." Former foreign affairs minister John Baird has also come out in support of the U.S. missile strikes in Syria. 

"This should not be seen as an attempt to solve peace or to resolve the conflict — it's to send a message. Its one purpose is to send a message: don't try this again," Baird told CBC Radio's The House.

'Not an imminent threat'

But Nour Elkadri, a demonstrator, called the airstrikes "short-sighted" and "reckless." 

"They [the United States] have done this in a way that undermines the international law. It even undermines the United States constitution," Elkadri said.

"You cannot bomb any country without going to the Congress unless there is an imminent threat. And Syria is definitely not an imminent threat to the United States."