Syrian authorities executed a group of 24 people accused of lighting forest fires that have burned large areas of Syria, state news agency SANA reported. They said the investigation showed that the alleged arsonists were guilty of violating the “religious, civil and natural rights of the Syrian people.”
The men were rounded up in the city of Hama and accused of torching forest lands and other sites belonging to the country’s government in violation of Syrian laws. It is not the first time Syrian authorities have leveled such accusations against people who have been convicted of something unrelated to the current conflict.
The executions came amid fierce air strikes by Russian and Syrian military jets on the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, which was liberated from ISIS in 2017. Hama province, which has a predominantly Sunni population, has been struck repeatedly in airstrikes as well. Hama was the center of the so-called “Arab Spring” and before that in 2011 had a cycle of deadly anti-government protests that led to brutal crackdowns and heavy violence by the government.
International human rights groups have documented many of the executions since President Bashar al-Assad came to power. Al-Monitor reported on Sunday that at least 10 people were killed in the same province. It was not clear if the executions had been carried out or how they were being carried out since there was no mention of what type of weapons were used.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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