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French Judges Issue Arrest Warrants for Assad and Associates Over Chemical Attacks

French criminal investigative judges have issued arrest warrants for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and three associates in connection with the use of banned chemical weapons against civilians in Douma and Eastern Ghouta in August 2013, resulting in over 1,000 deaths.

Aida Samani from Civil Rights Defenders stated, “The warrants send a strong message that the fight for justice will continue for the survivors and all affected by these atrocities in Syria.”

The warrants target high-ranking Syrian officials, alleging complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes. This investigation followed a complaint by Syrian victims supported by organizations like the Syrian Archive and Open Society Justice Initiative.

Hadi al Khatib, founder of Syrian Archive, praised France’s stance, saying, “These arrest warrants demand accountability from the highest-level officials for the crimes committed a decade ago.”

The historic warrants signal a global intolerance for chemical weapons and mark the first time a sitting head of state faces an arrest warrant in another country for such crimes. Mazen Darwish, founder of SCM, emphasized, “No one is immune from accountability for these crimes.”

Similar complaints filed in Germany and Sweden aim to prosecute international atrocities in Syria, underscoring a united effort for justice. The Assad regime’s use of toxic gases in over 200 attacks since 2011 has been condemned by UN investigators and the OPCW, resulting in widespread casualties and severe injuries.

The pursuit of justice in France, alongside efforts in other countries, signifies a collective determination to hold perpetrators accountable and seek justice for the victims, reiterating that such atrocities will not be tolerated or forgotten.

As Rights Defenders, we vehemently oppose crimes against humanity in all their forms. Our commitment to seeking justice for victims and holding perpetrators accountable echoes our unwavering dedication to upholding human rights universally. These efforts reinforce a clear message: those responsible for such heinous acts will face consequences, ensuring justice prevails and serving as a powerful deterrent against future atrocities.