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France arrests man on suspicion of helping Syria manufacture chemical weapons

France arrests man on suspicion of helping Syria manufacture chemical weapons

A victim of suspected chlorine gas attack in the Idlib province of Syria, 2015 (Image Credit: Firaz Taku/Anadolu Agency via CNN)

Paris: A French-Syrian man was arrested in the south of France on charges of supplying the Syrian military with components to help make chemical weapons according to a report by Agence France Presse. This is arguably the first time in France that someone will be investigated for their support of the Syrian military.

The 62-year-old man was arrested after he returned to France from abroad with his family for the holidays. His support of the Syrian military allegedly stretches back to the beginning of the civil war period in Syria (March 2011) and continues at least until early 2018, investigators claimed.

"This man is accused of having, through a company based in different places, in France and in the United Arab Emirates, participated in supplying the means to various state structures of the Syrian regime in charge of the production of non-conventional weapons," a source close to the case was quoted as saying by AFP.

The French-Syrian man will be investigated and tried on suspicion of conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity, accessory to crimes against humanity and accessory to war crimes, the AFP report said.

Syria denies the use of chemical weapons. It insists it handed over its weapons stockpiles under a 2013 agreement with the United States and Russia, prompted by a suspected sarin gas attack that killed 1,400 in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

The Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention suspended Syria's membership conditionally and urged it to provide a complete inventory of its chemical weapons programme, including supply and facility details. The decision was made in April after a probe by the organisation concluded that Syria was responsible for several more gas attacks on its own civilians.

Syria's declaration of its chemical weapons programme cannot be considered accurate and complete due to the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, Izumi Nakamitsu, the United Nations disarmament chief, told the UN Security Council on December 8.

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TAGS:FranceSyriaChemical weaponsMilitaryHuman rights abuse
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