Al Baida, 23 Jumadil Akhir 1434/3 May 2013 (MINA) – Government forces and militia members loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have stormed the coastal village of al-Baida, killing at least 50 people including women and children, Syrian opposition activists say, Aljazeera reported.
The death toll would increase and could reach more than 100, with many of those killed appearing to have been “summarily executed” by shooting or stabbing, The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Thursday (2/5).
There were reports that the raid came in response to oppositions attacking a busload of pro-Assad forces, known as shabiha, earlier in the day, killing at least six and wounding up to 20 more.
Government troops and shabiha were said to have surrounded al-Baida and nearby Maqreb, near the city of Baniyas, and unleashed mortar fire before raiding al-Baida, according to Turkish Weekly reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The opposition Syrian National Coalition said the Assad government is seeking revenge from the people of Baniyas because they were among the first to rise up in revolt in March 2011.
Baniyas and nearby villages is a largely Sunni area surrounded by Alawite towns.
The SOHR said the fighting was “the first of its kind in the Baniyas area”, since the uprising began and that the army had cut off all communications with al-Baida.
Government troops appear to have made substantial gains in recent weeks, seizing several suburbs outside Damascus and recapturing territory in Homs province, birthplace of the armed uprising.
The report of violence in al-Baida came as Chuck Hagel, US defence secretary, said arming the Syrian rebels was now a possibility.
At a news conference on Thursday with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, Hagel was asked if the US government was rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels and replied: “Yes.”
Hagel said no decision had been reached and declined to say if he favoured arming the opposition. “I’m in favour of exploring options and seeing what is the best option in coordination with our international partners,” he said.
The ongoing violence in the country has made more than 70.000 people died, as dominated by woman and children. (T/P03/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)