Regime executes 24 people accused of starting arson in 2020

24 “criminals” were executed in Syria on Wednesday. They were accused by the Damascus regime of having caused criminal forest fires in late summer 2020, the official Syrian agency SANA announced on Thursday. Acts qualified as “terrorists” having “killed people and destroyed state infrastructure and public property,” the agency added.

Twenty others, including five minors, were sentenced to terms ranging from 10 years in prison to life imprisonment. According to the agency, the convicts “confessed to having held meetings to plan the fires and to have caused them”. These fires had ravaged the provinces of Latakia and Tartous, on the Mediterranean coast, and that of Homs in the center of the country.

Three dead and dozens injured

These regions had experienced in September and October 2020 nearly 187 forest fires which had affected 280 localities and left at least three dead and dozens injured, according to official media. The fires had devastated some 13,000 hectares of farmland and 11,000 hectares of forests, as they had damaged more than 370 homes, according to Sana. Fires are recurrent in Syria, as in other neighboring countries, during periods of intense heat, especially at the end of summer. But the authorities sometimes suspect residents of provoking it, in particular to stock up on wood before winter for heating.

According to Amnesty International, the Syrian regime continues to resort to hanging. The human rights organization indicates in its latest report on death sentences and executions published this year that it was “able to corroborate information indicating that executions took place in Syria in 2020”, but that she did not have sufficient information “to put forward a reliable minimum figure”.

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