The Syrian regime has executed 24 people accused of causing criminal forest fires that ravaged the country at the end of summer 2020, the justice ministry announced on Thursday (October 21st). The 24 “criminals” were executed on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page, without specifying their identity, or the place and method of their execution.
They are accused of having “committed terrorist acts” by causing fires using flammable materials which “caused deaths and destroyed state infrastructure and public property,” the ministry said. Twenty others, including five minors, were sentenced to terms ranging from 10 years in prison to life imprisonment.
Three dead and thousands of hectares burned
According to the press release, the convicts have “confessed to having held meetings to plan and start the fires“. These fires had ravaged the provinces of Latakia and Tartous, on the Mediterranean coast, and that of Homs in the center of the country. 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 has “was able to corroborate information indicating that executions took place in Syria in 2020“, But did not have sufficient information”to advance a reliable minimum figure».