For years, it has been an open secret that a French charity co-founded by far-right sympathizers has been in bed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The organization, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOSCO, or SOS), was also an official “partner” of the French Defense Ministry at a time when the charity allegedly provided moral and material support to pro-Assad militias accused of committing war crimes. An investigation conducted by the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy and New Lines Magazine reveals new details about SOSCO’s alleged relationship with pro-Assad militias, including potentially damning testimony from witnesses that the nongovernmental organization might have directly funded one of the militias.
This alleged support would have occurred during and after the militia is said to have committed rights abuses that targeted the very community SOSCO claimed to be helping. According to France-based rights lawyer Laurence Greig, who worked pro bono to examine evidence gathered in the NewLines investigation, SOSCO’s alleged support of pro-Assad militias appears to have violated French laws and regulations regarding anti-terrorism, anti-corruption, and complicity in war crimes. Greig adds that prosecuting SOSCO in French courts would also open one militia and its leader to prosecution in France, even if in absentia, as an extension of a SOSCO court case.