Syrian President Bashar Assad executed 24 men who were convicted of setting up spontaneous fires across parts of Damascus and Al-Kiswah earlier this year, state-run media reported Wednesday.
The state news agency SANA quoted a judicial source as saying the 24 men convicted of “committing crime at night” were executed “after a public hearing and trial.”
It was not clear when the men were arrested.
The Syrian court “found them guilty of committing crime at night, burning fields and forests and building fires in some places,” according to SANA.
Syria has also executed two men who burned down a landmark landmark in Homs, a city that has long been a center of anti-government protests. The two were executed in February after a public hearing and trial, SANA reported at the time.
As the Arab Spring got underway in 2011, activists documented dozens of reports of arson attacks targeting buildings, the country’s electricity grid and the country’s famous sand dunes.
SANA said the Syrian interior ministry had organized a “safety campaign to prevent fires as fires are the most tragic results of crimes which constitute terrorist acts.”
“In this day and age, they should know that this is the work of terrorists,” it quoted the ministry’s directorate of intelligence and security apparatuses as saying.
Of the 24 convicted, seven were sentenced to death, and the other 17 to life in prison, according to SANA.
SANA did not say when or where the killings took place, but activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that several fires have broken out in Damascus since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in March 2011. They said there have been at least 20 such incidents so far this year.
The June 2012 prison fire in the Damascus district of Tadamon killed nearly 300 inmates, most of them Islamists or opponents of the regime, according to Syrian rights groups. Human Rights Watch said that fire was caused by exploding mattress jacks.
Syrian troops have been using more extreme forms of punishment, using chemical weapons, flogging people, publicly flogging people and of holding them as “guests” and not paying rent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Click for more from Sky News.