DAMASCUS, Syria: The Syrian Ministry of Justice has announced that 24 people convicted of lighting last year's devastating wildfires, which killed three people and destroyed thousands of acres of forests, have been executed.
The ministry added that the suspects, who were arrested last year and executed last week, confessed to setting fire to several areas in the three Syrian governorates.
Eleven others suspects received life sentences with hard labor, while four were sentenced to temporary hard labor, the statement said, adding that five minors were also given sentences ranging from 10 to 12 years in prison.
The fires, which affected 280 towns in Latakia, Tartous and Homs, burned more than 370 homes and destroyed 11,000 hectares of forests, as well as killed livestock and damaged agricultural equipment and infrastructure, according to the ministry.
Citing the official SANA news agency, Reuters reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose hometown of Qardaha, Latakia province, was badly damaged, visited the areas affected by the wildfires last October.
According to the ministry, the suspects admitted to planning the fires at the end of August 2020 and setting fires "intermittently" from September to October 2020.
Crimes such as treason, espionage, murder and arson carry the death penalty in Syria.
In 2017, an Amnesty International report, entitled, "Human Slaughterhouse," revealed a campaign of mass hangings in Saydnaya Prison north of the capital, Damascus, which saw the alleged executions of 13,000 people.
The Syrian Ministry of Justice denied the accusations.