Rights groups ask Germany to probe Syria chemical attacks

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Rights groups ask Germany to probe Syria chemical attacks

Human rights groups said Tuesday they have filed a criminal complaint in Germany asking prosecutors to investigate two chemical weapons attacks in Syria that stand out among the worst atrocities in the country s long-running conflict.

Three groups, including Syrian human rights organizations and international legal campaigners, want Germany’s attorney-general to probe the deadly sarin attacks on the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta and the town of Khan Shaykhun that occurred in 2013 and 2017 respectively. They argue there is plentiful evidence to blame the Syrian government for the attacks, including President Bashar Assad.

The New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and the group Syrian Archive chose to file their suit in Germany because the country applies the principle of “universal jurisdiction” that allows it to try crimes committed elsewhere. In April, two former members of Syria’s secret police went on trial in Germany accused of crimes against humanity over the torture of thousands of opposition protesters.

The groups say a dossier they submitted to German prosecutors this week contains new information about the attacks, including some gleaned from former Syrian government officials who have since defected.

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