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Syria executes 24 people for starting wildfires that burned thousands of hectares of forests

Syria executed 24 people after charging them with igniting wildfires last year that left three people dead and burned thousands of hectares of forests, the justice ministry said.

Although executions are common in war-torn Syria, the number of those put to death on Wednesday was larger than usual.

Syria’s decade-old conflict left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced half the country’s population, including five million refugees outside the country.




Those executed were charged with “committing terrorist acts that led to death and damage to state infrastructure and public and private property through the use of flammable material”, the justice ministry said in a statement carried by state media on Thursday.

Eleven others were sentenced to hard labour for life, four to temporary penal labour and five minors were handed jail sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years for similar charges, it added.

Their identities were not disclosed, and no details were provided on where and how the executions took place.



The suspects, the ministry said, were identified late last year in an interior ministry probe into wildfires in the provinces of Latakia, Tartus and Homs.

“They confessed that they had started fires at several locations in the three provinces and they also confessed to convening meetings to plan the fires” that occurred intermittently in September and October 2020, according to the justice ministry.

It said it documented 187 fires affecting 280 towns and villages last year.

They devastated 13,000 hectares of agricultural land and 11,000 hectares of forest land, while also damaging more than 370 homes, the justice ministry said.