A medic treats a young victim after a chemical attack on Latamineh in northwest Syria, March 2018
A French-Syrian dual national has been detained by French police on suspicion of assistance to the Assad regime’s chemical weapons program in Syria.
“Sources briefed on the case” said the man was detained over supply of components, through his shipping company, for the manufacture of chemical weapons in Syria.
The 59 year-old suspect, who lives outside France, was arrested in the south of the country where he was on holiday with his family. He is held on suspicion of “conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity, accessory to crimes against humanity and accessory to war crimes”.
The alleged crimes date from March 2011, at the start of the Syria uprising, to January 2018 and possibly later.
The case is believed to be the first in France of a suspect under formal investigation for support of the Assad regime’s military.
The regime has carried more than 300 chemical attacks, including the use of the nerve agent sarin, since 2013, according to the documentation of the Global Public Policy Institute. The UN and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have found the regime culpable for more than 30 assaults, including the sarin attack in April 2017 which killed about 90 people and wounded hundreds in Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria.
In March, survivors of chemical attacks filed a criminal case in France against the regime.