Yesterday, the French newspaper, Le Monde, revealed that the French courts had issued three warrants for the arrest of three high ranking officials of The Syrian Intelligence Device. The most important official among them is Major General Ali Mamlouk, Director of the National Security Bureau of the ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Syria, which is the highest security body in the whole country, since the party issues security policies in Syria and receives orders directly from the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad.

According to the newspaper, these three warrants were issued after filing a case to the French courts by Mr Obaida Al-Dabbagh, which contained various accusations against many officials and indicated that they have committed war crimes and against humanity crimes in concern with the enforced disappearance of his brother, Mazen Al-Dabbagh and his son, Patrick, who both have the French nationality. They were arrested in November 2013 by Intelligence agents who serve Al-Assad’s government due to their participations in peaceful demonstrations that demanded the resign of the Syrian government. However, three months ago, through documents published by the Syrian government and included names of prisoners who had died inside of the prison, it became certain that they were killed. According to the Syrian government, Mazen Al-Dabbagh had died on the 25th of November 2017 while his son Patrick had died on the 21st of January 2014.

During the investigations, the French courts used images that were taken by “Kaisar”, a photographer who had left The Syrian government and ran away in 2013 along with thousands of images of Syrian prisoners’ bodies that were tortured to death at the regimes’ prisons, most of these bodies were recognized by their families.

General Major Ali Mamlouk had become Director of The National Security Bureau after the death of his former supervisor, Hisham Bekhtear in 2012. His death was at Damascus Bombing which resulted in the death of many military and security officials including the Defense Minister at that time and General Major Assef Shawkat, son in law of Bashar Al-Assad.

Mamlouk had obtaind various security positions in Syria. He was considered one of Bashar Al-Assad’s reliable loyalist and he was the private envoy of Al-Assad who used to travel for secret missions and talks abroad.

Mamlouk was charged before of the attempt of bombing in Lebanon in 2015. At that time, a scandal broke in both Syria and Lebanon that was first of its kind, when the official video statement of the former Lebanese Minister, Michael Samaha, declared that he had received command from Memluk himself when he, the former minister, was arrested due to possession of explosives in his car while heading from Syria to Lebanon with the intend of using these explosives in bombings and assassinations in Lebanon.

Many Syrian lawmen consider this French step as one of the most crucial steps to open investigations against the Syrian government. Especially that it targeted high level officials of the Syrian intelligence. In addition to General Major Ali Mamlouk, courts have issued arrest warrants against Major General Jamil Hassan, Director of Air Force Intelligence who has a bad reputation in Syria, and Brigadier General Abdel Salam Mahmoud, Director of the Investigation Branch at Mezzeh military airport, which The International Fact-Finding Mission in Syria considered it one of the most detention centers that have witnessed deaths of prisoners in Syria. Moreover, as the director of detention centers which practice enforced disappearance and torture amounting, he was involved in committing against humanity crimes.

This step is one of the first steps to obtain justice in Syria. However, we at the Free Syrian Lawyers Association, hope that it will not be the last step towards providing justice to victim’s families. Although there is no accurate number of those victims who had died in prisons and detention centers under the command of the Syrian government, legal organizations determine that their number is between half a million and one million one hundred thousand Syrian victims since the beginning of the people revolution against Bashar Al-Assad’s government in 2011. Especially that, nowadays, courts have become the only choice for tens of thousands of Syrians to obtain justice, since practices of the UN Security Council was completely hindered by Russia which is a loyal supporter of Al-Assad’s government.