Damascus executes 24 arsonists responsible for 2020 fires

Another 11 people will face life imprisonment; at least five minors at the time of the events received sentences of between 10 and 12 years in prison. For the authorities, they committed "terrorist acts", causing the death of three people and the wounding of dozens. Documented 187 fires in 280 towns and villages in less than two months. 



Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The government of Damascus has executed 24 people, sentenced to death for having deliberately set a series of fires in the country last year.

According to the Syrian Ministry of Justice, another 11 will have to serve life imprisonment for the same crime, while five minors at the time of the events have been sentenced to between 10 and 12 years.  

For the Syrian authorities, the perpetrators are criminals who have committed "terrorist acts", which have caused "damage to state infrastructure and public and private property" as well as the death of at least three people and dozens of injured. The arsonists acted between September and October 2020, at various points in the mountainous areas overlooking the coast, rich in vegetation.

"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. 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.

When the fires broke out, experts blamed the anomalous heat wave that had hit the country at that time of year, combined with hot winds from the east and dry vegetation after a long period of drought. In the last decade, fires have become a common and recurrent phenomenon in the eastern Mediterranean due to climate change, which increases the risks of repeated heat waves and dryness that are among the determining factors in causing (or fueling) fires. Since the beginning of the industrial era, the planet's temperature has increased by 1.2°C and the rise is set to continue unless governments around the world intervene with drastic cuts in emissions.