British Columbia

B.C. Syrian community 'confused' by U.S. missile strikes, fear 'war call'

B.C.'s Syrian community reacts to the U.S. missile strike with mixed feelings.

'I don't want to see anybody killed by anyone in my country'

Yasin Alhomsi arrived in Canada as a Syrian refugee in 2015. He has mixed feelings about the missile attack in Syria by the U.S. government. (CBC)

Syrians living in B.C. are reacting with fear and confusion to news of U.S. missile strikes targeting their home country, not long after President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting Syrian refugees.

"I was surprised," said recently arrived 24-year old refugee Abdulrahman Saeed.

"This strike was very confusing for me."

The United States fired more than 50 Tomahawk missiles at Syria last night in response to this week's chemical attack that killed more than 80 Syrian civilians — the first direct U.S. assault on President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Saeed came to B.C. from Aleppo in February as a government sponsored refugee and now says he feels helpless watching the latest developments in Syria.

"I'm very sad because all of the dying people are from my country. I don't want to see anybody killed by anyone in my country," he said.

Others echo his angst.

A handout photo made available by the US Navy Office of Information shows the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launching a missile strike while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Seaman Ford Williams/Handout/EPA)
Syrian Yasin Alhomsi arrived in Vancouver in 2015 and also says he was surprised and confused by the news of the missile attack.

"It was a big surprise for us because last month president Donald Trump forbid us to go to America because he has a ban against Syrian people and now he's helping Syrian people — so we have a lot of questions," said Alhomsi.

While Alhomsi is relieved to see some international intervention into the Syrian crisis, he questions if these missile strikes will actually lead to ending the civil war.

"For more than six years we didn't see any reaction from international countries," said Alhomsi who is unsure if recent U.S. action will help end the civil war or make things worse.

'A war call'

Others are heartened, but afraid.

Zarah Tinholt has helped settle dozens of Syrian refugees in the Lower Mainland and says she is is both relieved and worried after hearing about the U.S. missile strike.

"I feel very relieved that someone finally did something," said Tinholt.

"At the same time, Trump's speech yesterday sounded a lot like a war call. The American war machine does not have a good history with limiting civilian casualties. I worry not only about war and death inside the country, but the global impact if we are all drawn into direct conflict with Russia." 

Zarah Tinholt is a refugee advocate fears the U.S. military strikes in Syria are a 'war call.' (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

About the Author

Bal Brach


Bal Brach is an award-winning reporter at CBC News Vancouver. She has worked in television, radio and online news across Canada for more than 15 years. Bal's storytelling skills have earned her two Jack Webster Awards. She is also the recipient of regional and national Radio Television Digital News Association awards. Bal can be reached at or on social media @BalBrach

With files from the Early Edition and Farrah Merali