The hashtag #PrayforSyria is trending across Europe and into the Middle East as liberals bemoan France’s retaliatory strikes on Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. Many of the tweets feature images of children apparently killed by the military strikes, but sources within the city have reported zero civilian casualties.
France launched extensive airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in Syria on Sunday night, following a deadly terrorist attack on Paris on Friday night which claimed the lives of 129 people. Over the weekend, the hashtag #PrayforParis went viral as heart-breaking accounts of the violent attacks made headline news worldwide
But in the early hours of this morning Twitter again erupted – in an outpouring of anger against the French government for daring to hit back. Over the last 12 hours #PrayforSyria has been trending across countries including France, the UK and even Egypt.
It makes me furious/worry how people don’t care about innocent Syrians dying but are so hurt when people in paris died #prayforsyria
— Aleyna (@Aleyna_Gurbuz) November 16, 2015
Many of the tweets accuse France of “terrorism”, and of fanning the flames of violence. Others accuse the wider world of indifference to violence in the Middle East.
— benny (@noodlez56) November 15, 2015
— محمد حنظلہ طیب (@HanzalaPak) November 16, 2015
I know what happened to Paris is bad but why they did to Syria is even more worse. What’s happening to the world? #PrayForSyria
— tris (@xoohstphne) November 16, 2015
A popular theme is the use of pictures of children caught up in bombing raids. However, France’s airstrikes are limited and have been carefully targeted to strike ISIS strongholds. According to the anti-ISIS activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, electricity and water supplies to the city were cut off by the strikes, but no civilian casualties have been reported.
— Bekificent (@QueenBekificent) November 16, 2015
— Arsalan Pakistani (@ArsalanISF) November 16, 2015
However, most are tweeting images without questioning their provenance. A photo of a child lying between two graves has proved a popular meme, but was actually photographed in Saudi Arabia as part of an art project. Far from depicting an orphaned child, it was designed by the artist to depict more generally the pain of losing parents.
— Great Quotes (@lion_faisal) November 16, 2015
Airstrikes by 12 French aircraft hit two targets in Raqqa with 20 bombs last night, the Wall Street Journal has reported. According to French defence sources, the bombs targeted a command centre, including an arms depot and a recruiting post, and a training camp.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said “France has always said that because she has been threatened and attacked by Daesh, it would be normal that she would react in the framework of self-defence. That’s what we did today with the strikes on Raqqa.”
The French President Francois Hollande was unequivocal in naming the terrorist attack in Paris as an “act of war” by ISIS. The attacks, he said, were “committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet.”
He said France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.”