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French judicial authorities have issued international arrest warrants for Syrian President Bashar Assad and several high-ranking military officials. The warrants are related to their alleged involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity, specifically citing a chemical attack in 2013 on Damascus suburbs.
President Assad, his brother Maher Assad, and two Syrian army generals, Ghassan Abbas and Bassam al-Hassan, are the subjects of these warrants. The Paris prosecutor’s office, adhering to French law, has not commented on these secret warrants during the ongoing investigation.
The investigation, conducted under universal jurisdiction by the Specialized Unit for Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes of the Paris Judicial Court, focuses on two chemical weapon attacks in August 2013 in Douma and Eastern Ghouta. Over 1,000 people were killed, and thousands were injured in these attacks.
The Syrian government, widely accused by the international community of carrying out these attacks, has consistently denied responsibility, attributing them to opposition forces. In the wake of the attacks, the US, under President Obama, considered military retaliation but eventually settled on a deal for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons. Despite Syria’s claim of having eliminated its chemical arsenal, allegations of continued chemical attacks by government forces persist.
Lawyers Jeanne Sulzer and Clemence Witt, representing the plaintiffs and supporting NGOs, praised the decision, highlighting its significance in the battle against impunity. According to Sulzer, this represents a positive shift in recognizing the severity of the crimes committed.