ALAWITE CIVILIANS 'KILLED IN HOMES' IN OPPOSITION ATTACK ON HAMA VILLAGE - 13 May - Syrian opposition fighters from groups including Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front have shot dead 19 civilians from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority in their own homes after seizing a village in central Syria, a monitor said on Friday.
Other villagers were kidnapped following the assault in which eight pro-government militiamen were killed trying to defend Al-Zara in Hama province, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"During the attack, they entered houses and opened fire on families, killing at least 19 civilians, including six women," said observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
The observatory listed the groups involved in the attack as Ahrar al-Sham, the Nusra Front, Ahl al-Sunna battalions, the Homs Corps and Ajnad Hom.
INSURGENTS SEIZE SYRIAN ALAWITE VILLAGE, KILLING 19: OBSERVATORY - 13 May - (excerpt) Dozens of people are still missing, believed to have been abducted from the village, which lies close to a main highway linking the western cities of Homs and Hama, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.
The Observatory said the attackers included Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham and the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.
An Ahrar al-Sham spokesman said: "Civilians were not targeted. On the contrary factions made great effort to spare civilians and deal with prisoners humanely."
The Observatory cited sources saying the 19 dead, who included six women, were from families of fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and were killed as rebels stormed houses during their attack on al-Zara.
U.S., BRITAIN, FRANCE BLOCK RUSSIA BID TO BLACKLIST SYRIA REBELS - 11 May - (excerpt) Russia's Foreign Ministry has long said that Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham should not be involved in Syria peace talks.
Ahrar al-Sham is an ultra-orthodox Salafist group and has fought as part of a military alliance including the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which was not part of a cessation of hostilities agreement brokered in February.
Ahrar al-Sham, whose late leader fought alongside Osama bin Laden, last year denied sharing al Qaeda's ideology or having organizational ties to the group.
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