Keyword: Syria

French Christian NGO's links to pro-Assad Syrian militia

By , Elie Guckert and Frank Andrews
SOS Chrétiens d’Orient's former head of mission Alexandre Goodarzy (in blue and topless) and its co-founder Benjamin Blanchard (in orange) posing in a Syrian house with a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov and machine guns.  © Document Mediapart SOS Chrétiens d’Orient's former head of mission Alexandre Goodarzy (in blue and topless) and its co-founder Benjamin Blanchard (in orange) posing in a Syrian house with a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov and machine guns. © Document Mediapart

French Catholic association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOS Christians of the Orient) claims to help Christians in Syria without interfering in the conflict that for nine years has been tearing the country apart. But as an investigation for Mediapart has already shown, it has forged close relations with bodies and people supporting the Damascus regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And as this second investigation reveals, the NGO - which for several years has been a 'National Defence Partner' of France's Ministry of Armed Forces – also supports pro-Assad militia.

French NGO 'Christians of the Orient' and its ties with the Assad regime

By , Elie Guckert and Frank Andrews
'Believe in Aleppo', a 2017 PR stunt in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, organised by the Damascus authorities with the help of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. © DR 'Believe in Aleppo', a 2017 PR stunt in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, organised by the Damascus authorities with the help of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. © DR

French association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOS Christians of the Orient) is a self-declared "apolitical" not-for-profit NGO, which sends volunteers and staff across the Middle East with the stated aim of supporting the region’s persecuted Christians, notably in Syria. But, as this investigation for Mediapart reveals, its links with the French far-right and its close relations with bodies and people supporting the Damascus regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad raise disturbing questions about its mission.


France repatriates 10 children from Syria

No details on their destination in France nor the circumstances under which they left Syria were provided.

President Assad's uncle jailed in France for money laundering

Rifaat al-Assad was convicted of embezzling Syrian state funds to buy homes and offices worth €90m (£80m) to build a French property portfolio.

French anti-terrorist judge urges return of IS jihadists

David De Pas, coordinator of France's 12 anti-terrorism examining magistrates, said that it would be "better to know that these people are in the care of the judiciary" in France "than let them roam free".

French FM heads to Iraq to seek trials there of jihadists from Syria

French foreign minister Jean-Ives Le Drian on Wednesday travelled for talks with the Iraqi authorities on setting up a judicial framework to allow for the trials of jihadists detained in Syria, where Kurdish captors said they can longer ensure guarding them in face of the Turkish offensive in the north of the country.

France suspends arms exports to Turkey

France joined Germany in announcing this weekend a suspension of weapons sales to Turkey for as long as Ankara continues with its military invasion of a neighbouring part of northern Syria, a ban which the French defence minister said concerned 'war materials that could be used in the context of this offensive'.

Orphans of French jihadists return to France from Syria

A group of 12 children of deceased French jihadists was flown home on Monday from north-east Syria where they were held by Kurdish forces, the latest step in efforts to resolve the problem posed by the huge numbers of foreign jihadists and their families stranded in Syrian camps after the military defeat of the so-called Islamic State group.

French jihadists face Iraqi justice under the discreet orders of Paris

By
From left to right and from the top, 11 of the 12 condemned to death: Yassine Sakkam, Fodil Tahar Aouidate, Karam El Harchaoui, Bilel Kabaoui, then Kevin Gonot, Léonard Lopez, Mohamed Berriri, and finally Mustapha Merzoughi, Salim Machou and Brahim Nejara. © DR From left to right and from the top, 11 of the 12 condemned to death: Yassine Sakkam, Fodil Tahar Aouidate, Karam El Harchaoui, Bilel Kabaoui, then Kevin Gonot, Léonard Lopez, Mohamed Berriri, and finally Mustapha Merzoughi, Salim Machou and Brahim Nejara. © DR

Twelve former residents in France – eleven of them French citizens, one a Tunisian – have now been sentenced to death in Iraq for having been a member of Islamic State. But whatever charges they face, the way in which Iraqi justice is being carried out in relation to the jihadists has raised major concerns, including among many French lawyers. As Mediapart has revealed, the ides of trying these French citizens and residents in Iraq was conceived in Paris where officials want the process to be carried out “without visible involvement by France”. Matthieu Suc reports.

French grandparents sue state over IS orphans in Syria

Children, a girl aged five and a two-year-old boy, are in the care of a Kurdish militia in north-eastern Syria, according to family lawyer.

President Macron's U-turn over repatriation of French jihadists

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President Emmanuel Macron on February 27th 2019. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes President Emmanuel Macron on February 27th 2019. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Speaking during a recent debate with local councillors President Emmanuel Macron insisted: “No programme for a return of jihadists has today been drawn up.” Yet, as Mediapart can reveal, officials at the ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice have in fact been working since the autumn of 2018 on plans for the return of French jihadists held by Kurds in Syria. Matthieu Suc reports on the French government's change of heart.

High-profile French jihadist Fabien Clain 'killed' in Syria air strike

Fabien Clain, 41, aka 'brother Omar', a veteran leading member of the so-called Islamic State group, who claimed its responsibility for the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, has been killed in a coalition air strike in Syria which also wounded his brother Jean-Michel, according to French media reports.

Up to 130 French jihadists could be repatriated from Syria

Interior minister reported as saying fighters of French origin could be repatriated from Syria as US forces withdraw from that country.

Macron 'very deeply' regrets Trump decision on Syria

FDrench President Emmanuel Macron, speaking during a visit to Chad, said he "very deeply' regrets the decision by his US counterpart Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from Syria, commenting that 'An ally should be dependable'.

France says its troops will remain in Syria

President Macron apparently spoke to President Trump in advance to try convince him not to remove US troops from Syria.