Activists: large number of Alawite civilians killed in Syria

Activists: large number of Alawite civilians killed in Syria

PanARMENIAN.Net - A large number of civilians from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect are reported to have been killed or hurt in a village in Hama province, according to BBC News.

Some opposition activists said as many as 300 people may have died in Aqrab.

They said pro-government militiamen besieged by rebels had blown up a building in the village where they had been holding the civilians hostage, and it had then been bombed by warplanes.

There has been no word so far from the government or state media.

A video posted online by opposition activists purported to show a young Alawite boy who survived the events in Aqrab, which is about 40km (25 miles) south-west of the city of Hama.

Speaking at a makeshift rebel field hospital, he said that 300 Alawite civilians were killed when government forces destroyed a building where pro-government Shabiha militiamen were holding them hostage.

Activists said the militia-controlled building was being besieged by the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The Shabiha, who are almost entirely Alawite, were using the civilians as human shields, according to the activists. They said village elders were sent to negotiate a release of the hostages and surrender of the militiamen.

But the elders were seized and killed, the militia threw grenades at hostages who were trying to run away, and then blew the building up as they themselves escaped, the activists claimed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it believed between 125 and 150 people, almost all of the Alawites, had been killed by gunfire and explosions in Aqrab.

The UK-based activist group had "received a series of contradictory reports on events in the village of Aqrab, which is inhabited by a minority of Alawites", a statement added.

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