France issues arrest warrant for Syria's Bashar al-Assad - Le Monde

International Arrest Warrants Issued for Syrian President Bashar Assad and Top Aides

By Sathish Raman |

French judicial authorities have issued international arrest warrants for Syrian President Bashar Assad, his brother, and two army generals for alleged complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, lawyers for Syrian victims said. The warrants include a 2013 chemical attack on rebel-held Damascus suburbs.

A victim of the attack welcomed the move as a reminder of the horrors of Syria’s civil war and urged countries where Assad might travel to arrest him. While he is unlikely to face trial in France, international warrants for a serving world leader are very rare and send a strong message about Assad’s leadership at a time when some countries have welcomed him back into the diplomatic fold.

The Arrest Warrants In addition to President Assad, the arrest warrants were issued for his brother, Maher Assad, the commander of the 4th Armored Division, and two Syrian army generals, Ghassan Abbas and Bassam al-Hassan, the lawyers said.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government on the warrants. Significance of the Move Jeanne Sulzer and Clemence Witt, lawyers at the Paris Bar who represent the plaintiffs, and non-governmental organizations behind the complaint, hailed the decision.

They believe it marks a crucial milestone in the battle against impunity and signifies a positive evolution in case law recognizing the grave nature of the crimes committed.

The Investigation

The Paris prosecutors’ office has not publicly commented on the arrest warrants, which remain secret under French law while an investigation is ongoing. More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands were injured in the August 2013 attacks on Douma and Eastern Ghouta.

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