An Iranian human rights group and a UK barrister have submitted a request to the International Criminal Court to examine Iran's role in the Syrian conflict.

The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) has brought the request to open a Preliminary Examination of the role played by Iran and the armed groups it controls in crimes committed during the conflict in Syria to the office of the ICC prosecutor in conjecture with UK barrister Haydee Dijkstal.

In a statement Wednesday, the IHRDC said that it had submitted the request in accordance with Article 15 of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute refers to the treaty adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome in 1998 that established the International Criminal Court. Neither Iran nor Syria are parties to the Rome Statute.

The IHRDC has alleged that agents from the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have perpetrated, aided and abetted the commission of certain crimes such as deportation and persecution against Syrian civilians which forced them to flee to Jordan for safety.

In its statement, the IHRDC said it has included evidence of Syrian victims directly impacted by the Syrian Government and the armed groups from Iran or controlled by Iran who attacked and intimidated them.

The IHRDC said forces led or supported by Iran were involved in hostilities across the entirety of Syria that led to more than 650,000 Syrians fleeing to Jordan from the violence.

According to The Guardian, the victims, including Syrian journalists, were targeted between 2011 and 2018 for their professional journalistic activities and for their actual and perceived opposition activities and came from predominantly Sunni towns and cities in Syria that the Alawite Assad regime and Shia Iran perceived as opponents.

The Guardian called the move to bring the case to the ICC "a groundbreaking attempt" to make Iranian and Syrian military officials answerable for war crimes.

“Up until now, little public attention has been paid to the legal responsibility of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the decade-long Syrian conflict, despite the significant intervention of Iranian officials in Syria and perpetration of atrocities,” Gissou Nia, the board chair of IHRDC said in the statement.

Nia said Iran has provided a vast range of military and non-military support to prevent the fall of Bashar al-Assad at any cost. "Unfortunately, that goal has been fought at the cost of hundreds of thousands of killed, injured and displaced Syrian civilians,” she added.

In the civil uprising phase of the Syrian Civil War, Iran provided technical support to the Assad regime to suppress the protests. The IRGC's Qods Force then began providing combat troops to support the Syrian military. Since then, Iran has spent tens of billions of dollars to send troops, arms, and equipment to Syria and to train Syrian forces as well as Iran-back militia groups including the Lebanese Hezbollah to assist the Assad regime.

In May 2020, a member of the Iranian parliament, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, in an interview with Etemad Online said Iran spent between $20 and $30 billion in Syria which he said has to be reimbursed.

Registered in 204 as a non-profit organization, IHRDC is based in Connecticut, United States. The organization which aims to document the patterns of human rights abuse in Iran and promote accountability has received funds from the US State Department, the government of Canada as well some private foundations and individual donors.

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