The Republic of France has issued an arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the alleged use of banned chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.
According to a judicial source, two investigative judges on Tuesday, November 14 issued four warrants against Assad, his brother Maher al-Assad, and two other senior officials, for complicity in crimes against humanity and complicity in war crimes.
This is the first international arrest warrant against Assad. An Interpol ‘Red Notice’ is expected to follow, according to Michael Chammas, one of the plaintiff lawyers.
A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest someone pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action, according to Interpol.
“All Interpol member states should then comply with the arrest warrant,” Chammas told CNN.
The legal case was brought forward by the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the Syrian Archive in March 2021 “over the use of banned chemical weapons against civilians in the town of Douma and the district of Eastern Ghouta in August 2013, in attacks which killed more than 1,000 people,” the plaintiffs said in a statement Wednesday.
The Syrian government was accused of using poison gas in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, then a rebel stronghold that the regime had been desperately trying to take back for more than a year. It in turn accused opposition forces of carrying out the attacks themselves.
An investigation was opened “in response to a criminal complaint based on the testimony of survivors of the August 2013 attacks,” the plaintiffs’ statement read.
Lawyer Mazen Darwish, founder and director-general of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), said in a statement Wednesday that the decision “constitutes a historic judicial precedent.”