France has issued an international arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused of complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes over chemical attacks in 2013, plaintiffs in the case said on Wednesday.

In one of the more than decade-long conflict´s many horrors, sarin gas attacks saw more than 1,400 people suffocate to death near Damascus in August 2013.The organisations that filed a legal complaint hailed the move, saying it was the first time a sitting head of state had become the subject of an arrest warrant in another country for war crimes and crimes against humanity.Three other international warrants were also issued for the arrests of Assad´s brother Maher, the de-facto chief of the Fourth Division, Syrian army´s elite military unit, and two generals. The Paris court´s unit concerned with crimes against humanity has been investigating the chemical attacks since 2021.France can prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world under the principle of universal jurisdiction. A judicial source, who asked not to be named, confirmed the issuing of the four warrants by investigating magistrates of the Paris court´s crimes against humanity section.

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