A day ago, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airfield in response to Tuesday’s deadly chemical weapons attack.
Obeid Kaifo called news of the military strikes, “bittersweet.” His relatives in Syria have lived under siege for the past six years.
“To hear that someone’s taking action against the person who’s being doing this to you and your family for years, there’s this bittersweet – you want to cry for it,” Kaifo said.
Across the world from his relatives, Kaifo has a piece of Syria in Denver at his family’s Shish Kabob Grill.
“My parents opened this business 13 years ago,” Kaifo said, sitting down in the Mediterranean restaurant before the lunch rush on Friday.
Kaifo is far away, but not far removed from six years of civil war in Syria.
“I’ve had four or five family members die in Syria,” Kaifo said.
Kaifo was born in the United States, but his parents left Syria in the late 1980s. Since the civil war began, Kaifo has rarely been silent in his opposition to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“He is a butcher,” Kaifo said. “He is a war criminal, literally a war criminal. He’s the definition of it by this point.”
Kaifo, who sits on the board of the Syrian American Council, said he believes his activism made his family and business a target.
“I’ve had people call the restaurant several, several times threatening to kill us,” Kaifo said.
Kaifo said he avoided social media over the past couple months until he heard about the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people, including young children.
“Those children represent the pain of the Syrians,” Kaifo said. “They really do.”
While Kaifo said he was not a supporter of President Trump, he applauded the decision to strike the Shayrat Airfield in Syria.
“You have to give credit where credit is due,” he said. “Period.”
Kaifo said he’s learned to put his principles before politics.
“Morally speaking, Trump did a great thing,” Kaifo said. “You have to understand, the United States is the only one that’s actually taken action in the world against Assad.”
Kaifo said he was hopeful the United States would consider similar military strikes in the future.
“Every time Assad chooses to kill his people, the United States gets involved. That’s what needs to happen,” Kaifo said.
While far away from Syria, Kaifo hasn’t given up hope for home.
“We need to give justice to those people who have died whether we do it militarily or politically,” Kaifo said.