In the midst of worldwide tensions over the war between Israel and Hamas, France has just poured a little more gasoline on the fire.
On Wednesday, France issued a warrant for the arrest of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for crimes against humanity.
President al-Asaad’s charges are in relation to the use of chemical weapons against the opposition in 2013 which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 people.
In addition to al-Assad, Assad’s brother Maher, the de-facto chief of a Syrian elite military unit, and two armed forces generals also have warrants for their arrest.
The charges are the result of a legal complaint filed by the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) NGO, the lawyers’ association Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), and the Syrian Archive, a body documenting human rights violations in Syria.
SCM president Mazen Darwish was obviously excited about the ruling, stating, “It’s a huge development.
“An independent jurisdiction is recognizing that the chemical attack couldn’t have happened without the knowledge of the Syrian president, that he has responsibility and should be held accountable.”
The incident was well documented on YouTube, with pictures of unconscious people on the streets, including children, who were foaming at the mouth.
Other videos were taken well after the fact, showing dead bodies lying all over the streets.
In the aftermath, the United Nations issued a report saying that sarin gas was clearly used by Assad to put down the opposition.
Syria has vehemently denied the charges, but it did agree to give up the use of all chemical weapons in 2013 when it joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Civil war broke out in Syria in 2011 after Assad started to repress peaceful protests, and more than 500,000 people have been killed since.
This will clearly ramp up tensions in the Middle East against NATO countries, so this is something we will definitely have to keep our eye on in regard to a response from Syria.