Syria executes 24 people in deadly fires last year

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syria executed 24 people on Thursday after accusing them of starting forest fires last year that killed three and burned thousands of hectares of forests, the ministry said. Justice.

Executions are common in war-torn Syria, but the number of people killed on Thursday is higher than usual.

The decade-old conflict in Syria has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced half of the country’s population, including five million refugees outside the country.

The justice ministry called the 24 who were executed “criminals who carried out terrorist attacks which resulted in deaths and damage to infrastructure and public property.” He said 11 other people were sentenced to life imprisonment in the same case.

He said nine others, including five minors, were sentenced to prison terms. Prison sentences for minors ranged from 10 to 12 years, the justice ministry said.

The ministry said that at the end of 2020, authorities arrested dozens of people who confessed to having started planning fires from August of last year. They started fires in September that affected 280 towns and villages and damaged 370 homes, the ministry added.

He said a total of 24,000 hectares (59,300 acres) of forests and plantations were burned in the fires.

Forest fires broke out in several Middle Eastern countries in October 2020 amid an unusual heat wave for this time of year, leaving Syria particularly hard hit. Three people were killed in the fires, which also burned large swathes of forests, mainly in Latakia and the central province of Homs.

President Bashar Assad’s hometown of Qardaha in Latakia province has been hit hard by the fires, which severely damaged a building used as a warehouse for the state tobacco company, part of which collapsed.

Assad made a rare visit to the region shortly after the blaze had been brought under control.

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