Syrian authorities have executed 24 people accused of causing the forest fires that swept the country in the late summer of 2020, the Ministry of Justice announced today.
The 24 "criminals" were executed on Wednesday, the ministry clarified in a statement posted on its Facebook page, without specifying their identity, place or method of execution.
They were accused of "committing terrorist acts" by causing fires using flammable materials. The fires caused "deaths and destroyed state infrastructure and public property," the ministry said.
Another 20 people, including five minors, were sentenced to 10 years in prison to life in prison.
According to the statement, the convicts "confessed that they had held meetings to organize the arson and that they caused the fires". The fires had devastated the provinces of Lattakia and Tartu on the Mediterranean coast and the province of Homs in central Syria.
These areas were hit in September and October 2020 by 187 forest fires that affected 280 sites and killed three people and injured dozens, according to official media.
The fires, which destroyed nearly 130.000 acres of farmland and 110.000 acres of forest, damaged more than 370 homes, according to the SANA news agency.
Fires are common in Syria, as in other neighboring countries, during periods of extreme heat, especially in late summer. However, the authorities sometimes suspect that residents are provoking them in order to prepare a stock of wood before winter to have for heating.
According to Amnesty International, the Syrian authorities continue to use the method of hanging.
The human rights group says in its latest report on death sentences and executions released this year that it was "able to confirm reports that executions took place in Syria in 2020", but did not have enough information. "To set a minimum reliable number".