125 Victims in Syria Alawite Village Bombings

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Scores of civilians from President Bashar Assad's minority sect were reported killed Tuesday as Washington blacklisted an al-Qaida-linked rebel group it accuses of hijacking the uprising in Syria.

Bomb attacks in the village of Aqrab in the central province of Hama killed or wounded at least 125 civilians, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which could not immediately give a breakdown of the casualties.

"We cannot know whether the rebels were behind this attack, but if they were, this would be the largest-scale revenge attack against Alawites," members of a Shiite sect in Sunni-majority Syria, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Aqrab is located near Houla, a majority Sunni Muslim village where 108 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were massacred on May 25 in what was widely blamed on pro-regime militias despite denials from Damascus.

Reports of the latest massacre broke hours after the United States blacklisted al-Nusra Front as a "terrorist organization," balancing its move with the announcement of fresh sanctions against pro-Assad militias.

The U.S. State Department said that despite its efforts to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition, al-Nusra was a front for the al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) organization.

"It is, in fact, an attempt by AQI to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes," it said.

The al-Nusra Front's fighters, many of them jihadist volunteers from around the Islamic world, were instrumental in the fall of the army's massive Sheikh Suleiman base in northern Syria on Monday after a months-long siege.

Its role in the seizure of the garrison, the government's last between second city Aleppo and the Turkish border, undercut the military influence of the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

An AFP journalist who witnessed the clashes around Sheikh Suleiman said many fighters were from other Arab countries and Central Asia.

The U.S. Treasury Department designated two of the al-Nusra Front's senior leaders, Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi and Anas Hasan Khattab, for sanctions.

It also imposed sanctions on two armed militias supporting the Assad regime as well as two shabiha (pro-regime militia) commanders.

At the same time, however, Washington said it had reason to ease the urgent concerns it had expressed in recent weeks about the dangers of Damascus resorting to use of its chemical weapons stockpiles against the rebels.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Syria had not taken any new steps in recent days that signal a readiness to use its arsenal.

"At this point the intelligence has really kind of leveled off. We haven't seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way," Panetta told reporters aboard his plane before landing in Kuwait.

International military chiefs have met in London to discuss the Syria conflict, a diplomatic source said after a media report that they discussed plans to train rebels and give air and naval support.

A British diplomatic source confirmed that the military leaders had held talks, but played down the idea that they discussed military intervention against the Assad regime.

"As far as I know they didn't explore options in any detail, certainly they didn't explore options for military intervention," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Inside Syria, at least 68 people were killed in violence across the country on Tuesday, the Observatory said, noting that its preliminary toll excluded the victims in Aqraba pending further reports.

With the total death toll now topping 42,000, according to the Observatory's figures, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and the wider Arab world had now passed half a million.

"And these numbers are currently climbing by more than 3,000 a day," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.

Comments 37
Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 11 December 2012, 20:56

Bashar should leave before his community pays the price for his stubbornness.. while there is no two ways about it and this is a crime however you look at it.
Bashar is dragging his sect into a conflict that they CANNOT win... have mercy on them and leave, before it is too late.

Thumb mckinl 11 December 2012, 21:29

This tragedy is but a taste of the horrors that have been unleashed by the US-NATO-Saudi Arabian gambit in Syria.

The US probably having heard of the massacre has begun distancing itself by condemning these Al Qaeda groups ... too little ... too late ...

There will be a bloody war after the civil war between the legitimate FSA and these jihadists.

Already we see Wahabbi fiefdoms throughout Syria. To these terrorists all others are considered infidels to be subjugated or killed ...

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 07:34

taste of the horrors that Bashar unleashed because of his refusal to cede power.. all this would have been avoided if he didnt think he was bigger than his country.

Missing anonymetexasusa 11 December 2012, 21:58

Resistance
You r deliberately misdiagnosing the issue.
60% might prefer stability, peace, and not having a bloody uprising against Bashar.
But that doesn't mean those 60% love Bashar, and want him to be their eternal supreme leader.
Even among his own sect, there are people who don't love him.
So yes, by stubbornly remaining in power he will drag his sect down with him

Missing bigjohn 12 December 2012, 02:41

60% of Syrians do not support the regime or the Islamist dominated opposition. You have 99.99 Sunni Islamists fighting an Army of a small majority of secular Sunnis and the minorities that include Alewites, Christians, Druze, Ismailis, and Shiites.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 07:37

he has over 60%??? then why.. pray tell.. did he never have elections?? and by that i mean REAL elections?!?!? yeah.. thats what i thought..
And yes i see through sectarian eyes when i am analyzing something in the levant.. because that is the reality of it.. not how i choose it to be... fat7al.
his wife is sunni? woopdee doo.. yes approx. 80% of Syria is Sunni.. the army is loaded with Sunnis... but all people in power and in charge of those Sunni soldiers are Alawite... so who is pushing sectarianism???

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 07:45

resistance.. if this is a US/Israeli/Saudi axis effort to bring down an Iranian ally.. he could have beaten them all by giving power to a transitional government.. held monitored elections.. which according to you he would win... and then the whole thing would have been put down..
but when he decides to face the protesters by force.. proves that he did not have legitimacy in the first place.

Missing mohammad_ca 12 December 2012, 12:56

LOVE when supporters of hizbocrap..a shia only party...speak out against sectarianism.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 14:42

i didnt decide for them, Bashar did by choosing not to have free fair and internationally monitored elections.. the only reason he would refuse to do so (this time and ALL the elections that have passed before) is he knows he will fail. There is no other answer.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 15:28

we have been through this.. and he i already said he did not accept all opposition groups, only the ones he stamped his approval on.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 15:28

How can you have an election or referendum with terror being rained down? how can you expect the opposition (the true one) of accepting a referendum without international monitors? come on Mowaten.. like i said.. IF.. and this is a big IF it started out as a u.s./zionist conspiracy.. he could have saved his country by accepting to stand down and run in elections that will be monitered .. he refused.. why should the opposition accept.
Akeed the country is going to go through a long period of rebuilding.. but in the end to get rid of a tyrant like Bashar is well worth it. they are not obligated to accept what bashar gives them.. it has been the case in syria for a while.. it was a time when bashar should have accepted their demands.. stand down.. hold free and fair elections.. but that time has passed... and the only end to bashar is the gallows or exile.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 15:29

instead HE plunged the country into chaos.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 15:43

and last thing.. he freed some political prisoners.. and got in twice as much again... again i repeat.. who is it that killed the guy that sang yalla 2ir7al? why? was he terrorizing? was he killing and bombing? so do not say that bashar is innocent.. he is the one who escalated it.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 18:33

Here we go again muwaten. This is the fundamental difference. What was the diff between this "referendum" and his and daddy's election? How many people were threatened like past elections? We don't know. That's where international monitors would have made a world of diff. Assad was never elected. So he has no right to form a committee that will draft a new constitution in the first place. And yes. I am sad at all the innocent lives and livelihoods lost. But a lot of countries that went through destructive revolutions in the past are better off now.
And why do you not say those deaths are not worth it for ONE man to cling to power?

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 18:37

And those opposition members that have been out of Syria for years. Remember they were not outside by choice. But exiled by an autocrat who did not want any difference in opinion to his will. Yes. Despite the deaths. Which IS traggic , and regardless of what comes next as long as it is the will of the people. Syria will be fine.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 18:37

And those opposition members that have been out of Syria for years. Remember they were not outside by choice. But exiled by an autocrat who did not want any difference in opinion to his will. Yes. Despite the deaths. Which IS traggic , and regardless of what comes next as long as it is the will of the people. Syria will be fine.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 12 December 2012, 20:13

i agree to a certain point that the opposition has no legitimacy.. but neither does assad.. so all i am saying is he could have made the transition much easier if he had handed power to a transitional govt and had elections.. if he had won it would have been worth more than a million bullets... but again.. he knew he would lose..
THATS what the SNC was asking for...

Missing anonymetexasusa 11 December 2012, 21:28

Bashar leaves
A national unity gov with all minorities represented.
A multinational peace force to fend off any attempt of reprisals by any side.
This is what is urgently needed

Thumb jcamerican 11 December 2012, 21:30

This will be a good excuse for Bashar to chemical bomb the hell out of them.

Default-user-icon JB (Guest) 11 December 2012, 21:50

With minority of exceptions, the Arab world s a disgrace to Islam! They slaughter each other with the military and financial aid of their historic colonizers and oppressors.

Missing gabby10 11 December 2012, 22:16

Bashar thought cutting the kids private parts was the way to terrorize the budding opposition at the start. Then he got the Alawait and Hezz shabiha to beat the protesters. Now his brilliant thinking is showing where it will lead. All out civil war.

Missing feekahraba 12 December 2012, 19:17

lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol, and they said you people are not funny, you to Mo5aton.

Missing chouf5 11 December 2012, 23:03

Civilians should be left alone.

Missing anonymetexasusa 11 December 2012, 23:40

resistance
At this point. It doesn't matter now, if that was a US/Israel/Saudi plot or not. It doesn't matter if relations with Iran might be severed or not. At this point in time, Bashar is falling. And the result of US/Israeli plot will happen regardless if you like it or not. Bashar tried his best to hang on when he thought he has a chance, but now that the end has become evident, there is no reason why he should drag this any longer.
He could call for a press conference, announce he is leaving, appoint a new interim gov formed of both loyolist and opposition (half and half). Tell his army to stop any offensive action, and to hold their ground until the new gov takes charge. And pack and leave along with his staunch henchmen into exile.
That's it, very easy, very simple.

Thumb kanaandian 11 December 2012, 23:40

I have seen enough of "the freedom fighting rebels" to go from staunchly opposed to Bashar, to becoming indifferent to Bashar...to now, actually hoping that the rebels are destroyed. These guys are 10% Jabhat al Nusra al Qaida, what % are the rest of the trashy bastards Salafists? I support killing all of these guys, so how can I support such? What you see in this Alawi village, you will probably soon see in Christian villages. I am against Bashar but I hope the Syrian Army kills of these guys before Bashar himself is ultimatially beheaded and his dead body raped...just like the 'revolutionaries' did to Qaddafi in Libya

Default-user-icon Greenie (Guest) 11 December 2012, 23:45

Tony ??? what do you expect from someone who believes 2006 War which caused the death of 1300 Lebanese apart from destruction is a divine victory.
This regime you are defending ya "aghba ou asfal el nes" slaughtered thousands of Lebanese.

Thumb kanaandian 11 December 2012, 23:46

This is an Islamic uprising.

Default-user-icon JC Williams (Guest) 12 December 2012, 00:28

The Sunni salafists want to kill allawites,shiites,christians anybody except Kurds because they are too tough . If Assad leaves or is assassinated the killing will not stop and there will be revenge attacks for decades. Syria will become worthless and ungovernable like Lebanon. A great victory, I guess.The result was clear when the fighting started the plan has been in place before the Arab Spring. When the large gas & oil find in Iraq Kurdistan afforded a clear opportunity to load a Qatari based pipeline to Southern Europe the plan was launched but not before conditioning the American people to another soft war. Ultimately you can expect a partitioning of Syria into a federation. UN sponsored ethnic cleansing. The Kurds will not miss this chance to push for a nation . They desrve one. Like the invasion of Iraq this is a catstrophe.A hard winter now descends. Some of you idiots will think this is a good thing. You will see you were wrong in time probably sooner than later.

Missing anonymetexasusa 12 December 2012, 01:37

resistance
those reports that say that Bashar still has support of his military, and that he is still in control, are probably 6 months old.
Situation is completely different now. See this is the problem, it is people who constantly wisper in Bashar's ears lies that he is winning, the rebels have been routed, rebels are in retreat and half way to Ankara by now...And the sound of clashes and artillary shells around his palace are just fireworks from his loving people celebrating his victory...
I bet Qadafi had the same kind of counselors telling him how victorious he is right up til the moment he was dragged out of the sewer and shot.

Missing anonymetexasusa 12 December 2012, 01:46

resistance
Bashar stepping down, is not a matter of grace, it is a matter of self-preservation...If he wishes to survive he needs to go into exile...or else this will drag until the rebels get to him and he gets shot or hung...the only drawback is the thousand of innocent civilians who will die in the meantime. Not to mention that the longer this drags on the more torn the country becomes, and civil war becomes a certainty.
If he is keen on preserving the life of his dear Syrian people, and the lives of his supporters, and doesn't wish their blood to be spilled in vain, and he is indeed in favor of handing over power, and he knows that by abdicating he can stop the killing...why doesn't he?
Negociations is not needed, he doesn't need to be present for negociations to happen, he can leave and representative of loyalists and opposition can come together on their own.

Missing bigjohn 12 December 2012, 02:55

The Sunni Islamists do not want to negotiate. They want to exterminate the Alewites.

Thumb kanaandian 12 December 2012, 10:13

Let's not insult our intelligence here... as barbaric and savage as the Islamist rebels are, we also must concede Assad is a bloodthirsty killer who never had any genuine intention at reforming. Now let's also be honest with ourselves, many components of the armed rebels are in it for a sharia fiefdom. That makes two bad sides fighting each other... the answer lies in the middle, if they don't find it, they won't have a country in a few years.

Missing bigjohn 12 December 2012, 02:54

When the FSA committed massacres (whether done by foreign Jihadists or not)...it claims others did it and the US condones the massacre. Now you have an Al-qaida group that is very large and is not under the FSA. So the Zionist American propaganda machine is trying to distance itself from it.

Missing shikonireh 12 December 2012, 05:23

Takbir

Missing peace 12 December 2012, 14:04

again the defenders of the baathist regime that killed thousands of lebanese and stole millions from public money know better than everyone...

they know that the majority of syrians support bashar... how? mystery.

they know that it is not a syrian uprisal but a saudi one. how? mystery.

they only accuse the FSA of massacres but deny those commited by bashar or minimize it and excuse it...

if we listened to them all this is orchestrated by one man: hariri!

just like they accuse only one man from stealing 60bn $ from lebanon!

waw! how strong and smart this family is! stronger than the whole western countries!

don t they find themselves stupid and ridiculous? don t they think before writing such enormities?

oh! hitler said that the bigger the lies the best people will believe them. they learned their lessons well!!! brainwashing did marvels there!

they just live in a state of denial because it is bad for their propaganda business inside lebanon....

Default-user-icon mete (Guest) 13 December 2012, 13:49

thats very sad

Default-user-icon ali from turkey (Guest) 13 December 2012, 14:07

i, a secular sunni, can see the situation from both sides. in the begining current regime was incredibly brutal and harsh on the people who organised peaceful demonstrations, which eventually caused this bloody uprising. now sunni rioters has started to seize the power and are burning with fire of revenge against esat regime so they attack innocent shia&alewite willages. as a results , the innocents sons of syria are being killed anyway.
in my opinioun, esat has to negotiate with rioters as soon as possible. he has to accept to cede the power after the aggrement that gives life right to all minorities, alewites chrsitians , secular sunnis etc . he has to be deported to another another country in safe way. if he insists on keeping administration, it'll be his fate and stopless bloody civil war.now only thing thats needed in cyria is cease-fire and then peace!