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EU foreign ministers insisted Wednesday that they would demand “accountability”  from Syria’s regime as well as militant and other armed groups over alleged war crimes committed since the 2011 uprising that plunged the nation into civil war.

Left: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose palace in Damascus overlooks one of the “torture hospitals” that became a dumping ground for opponents of the regime. Right: “Caesar,” a Syrian defector, who smuggled out thousands of atrocity photographs implicating Assad’s minions in war crimes, appeared in disguise before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last summer. Left, Adenis/GAFF/laif/Redux; right, by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

“Our countries are committed to ensuring that war criminals and torturers will not go unpunished,” the 18 ministers said in a joint statement published on the website of the French foreign ministry.

In the past 10 years nearly 400,000 people have been killed and more than six million have been forced to flee the country to escape “countless violations of human rights,” the ministers said.

President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, has also been accused of using chemical weapons in breach of international law as he reconquered control of the country.

“Full light must be shed on this decade of atrocities,” the ministers said, according to AFP.

“We continue to call for the International Criminal Court to be allowed to investigate crimes alleged to be committed in Syria and prosecute the perpetrators.”

Cases have already been filed in several European countries on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows suspects to be tried outside the territory of where the crimes were committed.

A German court in February convicted a former Syrian intelligence service agent for complicity in crimes against humanity, in the first such court case worldwide.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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