Weeks ago, the French judiciary issued an international arrest warrant against the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Al-Assad, his brother Maher, the real commander of the Fourth Division in the Syrian army, and two other brigadier generals: Ghassan Abbas, director of Branch 450 of the “Center for Syrian Scientific Studies and Research”, and Bassam Al-Hassan, President’s advisor for the strategic affairs and liaison officer between the Presidential headquarter and the Scientific Research Center, on charges of cooperation in crimes of using chemical weapons.
French investigations targeted individuals suspected of involvement in crimes against humanity through sarin gas attacks that targeted Eastern Ghouta and Moadamiyet Al-Sham in the Damascus countryside on August 21, 2013, killing more than a thousand people, which is an important step towards achieving justice for the victims of brutal attacks and holding those responsible for crimes and violations to human rights in Syria accountable.
Since April 2021, investigative judges from the Crimes Against Humanity Unit of a court in Paris have been investigating the attacks committed in 2013, within the framework of the “international jurisdiction” of the French justice department. The investigations also relate to an attack that occurred on the night of August 4-5 in the cities of Adra and Douma.
This step emphasizes the importance of holding accountable those involved in crimes against humanity, and reinforces the ongoing calls for justice and transparency in dealing with the atrocities committed in Syria. This step comes in an international context in which there is increasing pressure to hold those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable to justice. It is a positive signal of determination to hold accountable those who misuse force and prohibited weapons against civilians.
The following are basic points that the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity focuses on, which require the attention of international bodies and specialists in resolving the Syrian crisis, and must be taken into consideration:
First: A previous report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirms that Assad’s attacks targeted civilians and forced them to flee, completely without military justifications, but rather to terrorize them and change the demographic balance in the country.
Second: Accountability for crimes – such as chemical weapons attacks – must be a basic condition for any safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrians, in order to build confidence and ensure justice.
Third: The political solution to the Syrian crisis must focus on creating a safe environment for Syrians under international supervision, which is essential before starting any electoral or reconstruction process.
Fourth: The Syrian regime, which has been proven involved in using chemical weapons against the people, lacks any legitimacy to secure a safe environment, so direct international pressure, real international guarantees, and effective executive mechanisms are the only way to achieve a safe, voluntary and dignified return of the displaced.