The French Republic has issued an arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in connection with the alleged use of prohibited chemical weapons on civilians in Syria.
According to a judicial source, on Tuesday, November 14, two investigative judges issued four warrants against Assad, his brother Maher al-Assad, and two other top officials for participating in crimes against humanity and war crimes.
This is Assad’s first international arrest warrant. According to Michael Chammas, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, an Interpol ‘Red Notice’ is on the way.
According to Interpol, a Red Notice is a request to law enforcement around the world to identify and temporarily detain someone pending extradition, surrender, or other legal action.
“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 employing poison gas in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb that was then a rebel stronghold that the regime had been desperately attempting to retake for almost a year. It then blamed opposition groups of conducting out the strikes.
The investigation was launched “in response to a criminal complaint based on the testimony of survivors of the August 2013 attacks,” according to the plaintiffs’ statement.
In a statement issued Wednesday, lawyer Mazen Darwish, founder and director-general of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), said the ruling “constitutes a historic judicial precedent.”