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US families sue French firm over financial aid to Daesh, other terrorist groups in Syria

The logo of French concrete maker Lafarge is seen on the plant of Bercy on the banks of the river Seine in Paris, France, September 3, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

French cement giant Lafarge has been sued by relatives of American soldiers and US aid workers, who were killed or injured by Daesh and other terrorist groups, over its financial support to the Takfiri outfits in Iraq and Syria.

The court document lodged on Thursday with the district court for the Eastern District of New York said the legal claim came after Lafarge was convicted last year of bribing and admitting to paying the Takfiri terrorist groups of Daesh and al-Nusra Front to allow the company to keep operating in northern Syria.

Lafarge, which was merged with Swiss building material company Holcim (HOLN.S) in 2015, agreed to pay $778 million in forfeiture and fines as part of a plea agreement in October, and, as the court documents said, admitted to offering nearly $6 million in cash to the two terrorist groups.

“Lafarge’s support for ISIS (Daesh) and ANF ran deep. It operated a lucrative cement plant in northern Syria, and it decided that bribing Syrian terrorists offered the best way to protect its profits from the plant,” the court document said.

“Defendants’ payments aided the terrorist attacks that targeted plaintiffs and their family members,” it added.

As well as Lafarge SA, the defendants include its former Chairman Bruno Lafont and other executives in the claim which is seeking punitive damages and compensation.

“In accepting Lafarge’s guilty plea last year, the court found its crime impacted the victims of terrorist acts,” the complaint document said.

“Just as Lafarge is guilty of a crime under the Anti-Terrorism Act, it is civilly liable under the same statute to the victims of its criminal conspiracy,” it added.

The claimants include the families of US aid workers and journalists, including Steven Sotloff and James Foley, who were both beheaded by Daesh on camera in 2014, and 10 military personnel killed or injured by Daesh and al-Nusra Front attacks in Syria, Iraq, and further afield.

Daesh began a campaign of terror in Iraq and Syria almost a decade ago, when it began to take control of vast swathes of land in lightning attacks in both countries.

In the meantime, the US has deployed forces and military equipment in Syria under the pretext of fighting Daesh, but without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The US military claims its presence in Syria is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh.

Damascus, however, maintains the illegal deployment is meant to plunder the Arab country’s natural resources.

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