Thursday, December 7, 2023

France issues int’l arrest warrant for Syria’s Assad

France has issued an international arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, accused of complicity in crimes against humanity over the chemical attacks in 2013 near Damascus, a judicial source and plaintiffs in the case announced Wednesday. Damascus has rejected any involvement in the gas attack.

The judicial source told AFP Assad was also suspected of complicity in war crimes for the attacks, blamed by the opposition on the Syrian government, that killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus in August 2013.

International warrants were also issued for the arrests of Assad’s brother Maher, the de-facto chief of a Syrian elite military unit, and two armed forces generals.

The Paris court’s unit concerned with crimes against humanity has been investigating the chemical attacks since 2021.

France claims worldwide jurisdiction for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The probe followed a legal complaint filed by the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) NGO, lawyers’ association Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the Syrian Archive, a body documenting human rights violations in Syria.

The Syrian government has denied the allegations, which have also sparked legal complaints in Germany and other European countries.

This is while Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons.

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