Syria executes 24 people over deadly wildfires

President Assad’s home town of Qardaha in Latakia was hit hard by fires

A view of a forest fire at in the countryside of Latakia, Syria in 2020. Photograph: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty

A view of a forest fire at in the countryside of Latakia, Syria in 2020. Photograph: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty

 

Syria has executed 24 people after charging them with igniting wildfires last year that left three people dead and scorched thousands of acres of forests.

Executions are common in war-torn Syria, but the number of those put to death on Thursday is larger than usual.

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

The Syrian justice ministry called the 24 who were executed “criminals who carried out terrorist attacks that led to deaths and damage to infrastructure and public property”.

It said 11 others were sentenced to life in prison in the same case.

Wildfires broke out in several Middle Eastern countries in October 2020 amid a heatwave that was unusual for that time of year, leaving Syria particularly hard hit.

Three people were killed in the blazes, which also burned wide areas of forests, mostly in Latakia and the central province of Homs.

Syrian president Bashar Assad’s home town of Qardaha in Latakia was hard hit by the fires, which heavily damaged a building used as storage for the state-owned tobacco company, part of which collapsed.

Mr Assad made a rare visit to the region shortly after the fire was brought under control. – AP