France Issues Warrants For Top Syrian Commanders

France Issues Warrants For Top Syrian Commanders

Shafaq News/ French investigators have issued international arrest warrants for four senior Syrian army officers believed to have ordered a 2017 bombardment that killed a French-Syrian civilian, a source familiar with the case told AFP Thursday.

Case documents seen by AFP show that one of the men is Fahd Jassem al-Freij, who was serving as defence minister at the time and is accused of "complicity in a deliberate attack against the civilian population... constituting a war crime".

"These international arrest warrants, the first ever issued for war crimes against senior officials in the Syrian regime, show that... the fight for justice continues," said Clemence Bectarte, a lawyer representing co-plaintiffs in the case.

Salah Abou Nabout, a 59-year-old French-Syrian former teacher, was killed in the southern city of Daraa on June 7, 2017.

His France-based son Omar Abu Nabout and aid group the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) say that a Syrian air force helicopter supported by Russian forces dropped a barrel bomb on the three-storey block where Salah lived.

The Paris criminal court's crimes against humanity unit opened an investigation in 2018 after Omar filed a complaint.

The probe has uncovered "information about the military chain of command at the time of the bombing", according to papers seen by AFP.

It has also determined the "type of explosives used" and the "circumstances" of the bombings in Salah Abou Nabout's neighbourhood.

That information formed part of the case allowing an investigating magistrate to file the international warrant for Fahd Jassem al-Freij.

The magistrate also filed warrants for Ali Abdullah Ayoub, who was serving as chief of general staff, Ahmed Mohamed Balloul who was air force chief, and Ali Safetli, commander of the 64th helicopter brigade at the time.

All are accused of war crimes.


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