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NGOs call on Germany to investigate sarin gas attacks in Syria

A Syrian boy holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on January 22, 2018 [HASAN MOHAMED/AFP via Getty Images]
A Syrian boy holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on January 22, 2018 [HASAN MOHAMED/AFP via Getty Images]

Three prominent NGOs submitted a criminal complaint to the German courts over sarin gas attacks in Syria, a legal milestone which marks the first step on the long road to holding Bashar Al-Assad's regime accountable for its use of chemical weapons.

The Justice Initiative, the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression and the Syrian Archive submitted the dossier of evidence to the German federal public prosecutor in Karlsruhe on behalf of victims on Monday.

The joint two-year-long investigation focuses on two of the worst chemical weapons attacks in the decade-old war: the use of sarin gas on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013, which killed more than 1,500 people, and the north-west village of Khan Sheikhun in 2017, which killed around 100.

In April, Syrian refugees came face to face with their torturers in what is said to be a landmark legal case to prosecute the officials responsible for committing crimes including humanity during the long-running conflict.

In August 2013, a photographer for the Syrian government military police code-named Caesar smuggled 53,275 photographs out of Syria allowing the world to see and families to identify their loved ones. In 2015, Human Rights Watch (HRW) received the full set of images from the Syrian National Movement, a Syrian anti-government political group that obtained them from Caesar. They announced that the photos are clear evidence of the Syrian government's crimes against humanity.

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