This marks the beginning of what appears to be a series of more substantial strikes against Iranian-backed militias, who have been implicated in attacks on US troops in the region.
France has issued an arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in connection with the alleged use of banned chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.
According to various media reports, two investigative judges issued four warrants on Tuesday against Assad, his brother Maher al-Assad, and two other senior officials for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Syrian human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, founder of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, said that the decision was “unprecedented.” It is believed to be the first time a country has issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state in another country for crimes against humanity.
According to Michael Chammas, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers has said that an Interpol ‘Red Notice’ is expected to follow.
A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement around the world to locate and temporarily detain someone pending extradition, surrender, or other legal action.
The Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), and the Syrian Archive filed the lawsuit 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 that 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 Damascus suburb that was then a rebel stronghold that the regime had been desperately attempting to retake for over a year. It then accused opposition forces of carrying out the attacks.
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 decision “constitutes a historic judicial precedent.”
“It is a new victory for the victims, their families, and the survivors and a step on the path to justice and sustainable peace in Syria,” Darwish said.