Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

'All is Well' for Lisa Simone

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

EU questions Apple's tax deals in Ireland

Read more

FOCUS

The Iraqi TV show where victims confront terrorists

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Syrian student risks her life to film IS group stronghold

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Forgotten and fictional sports

Read more

DEBATE

Modi in America: India's Prime minister on triumphant US tour

Read more

DEBATE

Hong Kong protests: Pro-democracy movement gets global support

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

China censors Hong Kong protests on social media

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Diane von Fürstenberg, Fashion designer

Read more

Middle east

Regime forces target Sunni areas of northwest Syria

© AFP file photo

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-05-04

Regime troops continued an offensive on Sunni areas of the northwestern Syrian city of Banias on Friday, a rights group said. Clashes between opposition rebels and the Syrian army broke out Thursday in Banias and the Sunni village of Bayda.

The Syrian army bombarded Sunni areas of Banias on Friday as heavy gunfire rocked the northwestern city, a watchdog said, raising fears of a new massacre.

"Some neighbourhoods in southern Banias are being bombarded by regular troops and soldiers manning checkpoints in the area have opened up with fire," said the Britain-based watchdog.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said troops were raiding homes and making arrests "triggering panic" among residents.

"I fear that there could be a massacre like the one that happened yesterday in Bayda," a Sunni village south of Alawite-majority Banias, Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Fierce clashes between rebels and soldiers erupted Thursday in Banias and Bayda, where government troops and pro-regime militias were accused by the opposition of carrying out a "large-scale massacre".

Citing witness accounts of civilians being stabbed to death in Bayda, the opposition National Coalition called for urgent action from the United Nations and the Arab League "to save the civilians of Bayda, Banias and other villages across Syria".

In its statement, the opposition accused the Syrian regime of "war crimes and genocide".

Abdel Rahman told AFP on Thursday, citing villagers who fled Bayda, that "at least 50 people were killed in summary executions and shelling" in the village.

The Observatory, which relies on a broad network of sources on the ground for its information, also reported on Thursday that some people "were summarily executed, shot to death, stabbed or set on fire".

It said regular troops were backed by shabiha, pro-government militiamen.

The Alawite sect to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs is an offshoot of Shiite Islam while insurgents battling to topple his regime are mainly Sunni Muslims.

Along with Daraa, cradle of the uprising against Assad's regime in the south, Banias saw some of the first anti-regime demonstrations in March 2011.

Banias has a population of about 40,000, half of whom are Sunnis, 45 percent Alawites and the rest Christians and Ismailis, another Shiite branch, according to experts.

The Sunni-populated village of Bayda is home to about 6,000 people.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-05-03

  • HAARETZ

    US involvement in Syrian conflict breeds uncertainty

    Read more

  • SYRIA - USA

    US reconsiders arming Syria rebels

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Hezbollah pledges to assist Assad in Syria conflict

    Read more

COMMENT(S)