Forest fire
Forest fire iStock

Algeria is blaming two groups it recently designated as terrorist organizations, including one it claims was backed by Morocco and Israel, for devastating wildfires that hit the country this month, Reuters reported.

The president's office said police had arrested 22 people for starting the deadly fires, but said ultimate responsibility lay with the Islamist Rashad group and MAK, an autonomy movement for the mostly Amazigh-speaking Kabylie region.

Algeria designated both groups as terrorist organizations this year. The presidency said on Wednesday that MAK "gets support and help from foreign parties, particularly Morocco and the Zionist entity", according to Reuters.

Algeria, like many Muslim states, does not have relations with Israel. In April of 2018, an Algerian court sentenced eight people to 10 years in prison over espionage for Israel.

Morocco and Algeria have also had bad relations for decades, with Algiers backing the armed Polisario movement that seeks independence for Western Sahara.

In December, the head of Algeria's largest Islamist party labeled Morocco's Prime Minister Saad Eddine El-Othmani a "traitor" over his country’s decision to normalize ties with Israel.