Al-Qaeda-linked rebels claim Syrian sectarian killings

Jabhat al-Nusra claims responsibility for the killing at least 30 Alawites during village raids last week

BEIRUT — An al-Qaeda-linked rebel group says it killed at least 30 members of President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect during an attack on three villages in central Syria last week.

Jabhat al-Nusra said in a statement posted online that its fighters attacked the predominantly Alawite villages of Maksar al-Hasan, Jab al-Jarrah and al-Massoudiyeh in Homs province on Tuesday. It said it seized Maksar al-Hasan for 10 hours before being forced to withdraw.

The group says it killed more than 30 Alawites and seized 10 Russian-made weapons, ammunition, cars and other equipment in the assault.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said late Sunday that activists have confirmed the death of 22 villagers from Maksar al-Hasan.

The killings underscore the dark sectarian overtones of Syria’s civil war.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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