White Helmets rescuers treat victims of the Assad regime’s sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, April 4, 2017

Victims of chemical attacks by Syria’s Assad regime have filed a criminal complaint in Sweden.

Lawyers lodged the complaint with Swedish police on Monday, seeking an investigation into the role of Bashar al-Assad’s officials.

Activists behind the initiative said in a statement, “The groups call on Swedish judicial authorities to open an investigation into these attacks, so that Syrian officials responsible for these war crimes can be put on trial under the principle of universal jurisdiction.”

The action followed similar filings by rights activists, on behalf of victims, in Germany and France.

The complaint notes the Assad regime’s sarin attacks near Damascus in August 2013, which killed more than 1,400 people, and the sarin assault on Khan Sheihoun in northwest Syria in April 2017, in which about 90 civilians were slain and hundreds were wounded.

Steve Kostas, a lawyer at the Justice Initiative, noted:

In the 10 years since the first assaults on pro-democracy protesters in Syria, the government has used chemical weapons more than 300 times to terrorize the civilian population.

Swedish authorities can join their counterparts in France and Germany to jointly investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria and demonstrate that there will be no impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.

The UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have found the Assad regime responsible for about 35 sarin or chlorine attacks. In April 2020, the Global Public Policy Institute documented 349 uses of chemical agents.

Last week the OPCW formally attributed responsibility to the regime over a chlorine attack in Saraqib in northwest Syria in February 2018.

The conclusion, as well as a forthcoming report on the April 2018 chlorine attack in Douma near Damascus, has spurred an escalation in the disinformation campaign by Russia, the regime, and its supporters to deny the assaults.

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