Three Assad advisers indicted in France for Syria war crimes


PARIS – French authorities revealed on Tuesday that three Syrian nationals, all former or current advisers to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were charged on March 29 with complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The three former advisers are the head of the National Security Bureau of the Ba’ath Party Ali Mamlouk, former head of the Syrian air force intelligence directorate Jamil Hassan, and air force intelligence officer Abdel Salam Mahmoud. This is the first time that such senior officials from Syria will be on trial in France for crimes of this nature.

The French prosecution insists that these three Syrians were involved in the disappearance and deaths of a French high school counselor in Damascus, Mazen Dabbagh, and his son Patrick who studied literature at the University of Damascus. The father and son, both Syrian-French nationals, were arrested in November 2013. They were detained at one of the airports near the Syrian capital, interrogated and tortured by intelligence agents from the Syrian air force. , which is believed to be one of the largest. powerful bodies in the regime.

A preliminary investigation into possible forced departure of the Dabbaghs was launched in 2015 after their family filed a complaint in France. French authorities launched a full investigation in 2016, leading to the issuance of international arrest warrants two years later. With no news of their whereabouts, French authorities declared both dead in 2018. Patrick is believed to have been killed in 2014 and Mazen in 2017. Evidence collected by French investigators suggests, among other forms of torture , that the father and the son were beaten. with iron bars on the soles of their feet, subjected to electric shocks and their nails torn out.

The French authorities have issued an international warrant to arrest the three, but so far without any results. France does not expect the defendants to show up for their trials or to have lawyers on their behalf. However, Dabbagh’s family members expressed satisfaction with the decision, even if it is only symbolic. Mazen’s brother-in-law, Obeida Dabbagh, who was arrested during the same period but released after two days, welcomed the court’s decision to indict. He told Agence France-Presse that the decision signaled to the Syrian government that “one day the punishment will end”.

France severed all diplomatic relations with Syria in 2011. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in mid-March that it did not intend to change its position towards the Assad regime. “There is no reason to proceed with the normalization of relations with the Syrian regime, which has been cracking down on its people, preventing the return of refugees and causing instability in the region through drug smuggling,” said spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. said.

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