Syria executes 24 people accused of starting forest fires – .

Syria executes 24 people accused of starting forest fires – .

The perpetrators confessed to setting fire to several locations in the three governorates and to having been arrested for the first time last year, according to the statement from the Ministry of Justice.

They were executed on Wednesday.

Eleven other people involved in starting the forest fires were sentenced to life imprisonment, and four others were sentenced to temporary forced labor, the statement said. Five minors were also sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 to 12 years for their involvement.

The fires affected 280 towns, damaged more than 370 houses and destroyed 11,000 hectares of woodland, with significant damage also caused to livestock, agricultural equipment and infrastructure, according to the justice ministry. The fires spread to the provinces of Latakia, Tartous and Homs.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad paid a rare visit to areas affected by forest fires last October, Reuters reported, citing the state-run SANA news agency. Assad’s hometown of Qardaha in Latakia province was badly affected by the blaze.

The Department of Justice press release indicates that the perpetrators admitted to planning to start the fires at the end of August 2020 and that they committed the crimes “intermittently” from September to October 2020.

Capital punishment in Syria is permitted for crimes such as treason, espionage, murder and arson.

In 2017, Amnesty International highlighted a campaign of mass hangings in Saydnaya prison, located north of the capital Damascus.

Amnesty’s report, “Human Slaughterhouse”, found that 13,000 people were executed in the prison, as part of a “hidden” campaign authorized by senior regime officials. The report alleges that the prisoners were moved in the middle of the night from their cells under the pretext of being transferred, but instead were taken to the prison compound, where they were hanged.

The Justice Department denied the charges.


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