Extremism takes hundreds of lives in Latakia

Extremism takes hundreds of lives in Latakia
Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:44:01

Hundreds of Alawite civilians have brutally been killed, kidnapped, tortured or have disappeared during a rebel offensive on the province of Latakia, local residents have reported.

Foreign-backed militants have pushed deep into the coastal city for the first time, seizing a string of villages in a campaign which, locals have warned, threatens to open the area up to full-blown sectarian war.

"We are still finding people who were killed in their homes, and bodies left in bushes," said Sheikh Mohammed Reda Hatem, a religious leader in Latakia. "Until now 150 Alawites from the villages have been kidnapped. There are women and children among them. We have lost all contact with them."

After suffering a string of recent military defeats, in the central Syrian province of Homs, the militants including al-Qaeda linked-extremists have turned to Latakia.

At one point the fighting came within 12 miles of Qardaha where is said to be Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ancestral village.

Extremist crimes against Alawite civilians are not new in the foreign-backed insurgency in Syria.

At the start of the crisis in 2011 when pro-reform protests was turning to a war by penetration of scores of foreign extremists, many Shia-dominated towns and villages witnessed unmerciful killing of many people including children.

"They are provoking a sectarian war. The casualties are in their hundreds and many civilians have been kidnapped, including women," said Dr Ammar al-Assad, a Member of Parliament for Latakia.

"Those civilians who were not kidnapped have fled and are hiding in the forests around the villages. The situation is in total chaos.”

Video footage posted showed rebel groups indiscriminately launching rockets in the direction of Qardaha, and many of the comments made in the footage were clearly sectarian.

The coastal cities of Latakia and Tartous in recent months were a safe haven for Syrian residents, however latest attacks have made many people flee the areas.


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