Watchdog reports ‘massacre’ in Bayda, at least 50 dead

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State forces and militias loyal to President Bashar al-Assad committed a “massacre” when they stormed Syria’s coastal village of Bayda on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, killing at least 50 people including women and children, reuters reported.

The Observatory said the final toll was expected to exceed100 dead. Many of those killed appeared to be executed by gunfire or knives, it said, and other bodies were found burned.

Al Arabiya had learned after speaking to activists on the ground that there may have been up to 200 people who had been killed.

Earlier on Syria’s state news agency SANA quoted an unnamed official who said regime forces “killed terrorists in Bayda and the village of Mirqab, as well as in the (Sunni) district of Ras al-Nabah,” in the port of Banias, according to AFP.

The Syrian watchdog had earlier claimed that government troops and the shabiha (pro-government militiamen) had actually carried out “summary executions.”

“The army has cut off all communications with the village and it is very difficult to get a precise toll,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Meanwhile, fierce clashes between troops and rebels were reported by AFP in a Sunni Muslim village in the Alawite-majority coastal region of Banias in northwestern Syria.

The Banias region is predominantly Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam and the sect of President Bashar al-Assad, but has several Sunni villages to the south.