Militants kill 19 Alawites 'in revenge for Aleppo'

Militants kill 19 Alawites 'in revenge for Aleppo'
Al-Qaeda militants allegedly killed 19 Alawite civilians on Friday after seizing al-Zara village in Syria's Hama province in revenge for the regime's bombing of Aleppo.
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Several al-Qaeda affiliated elements took part in the revenge attack [AFP]
Nineteen Alawite civilians were shot dead by Syrian al-Qaeda fighters and their allies just a day after the militants seized a village to avenge the violence in Aleppo, a monitoring group said on Friday.

Members of the minority group were allegedly killed by al-Nusra Front, when the militants ransacked their homes in the al-Zara village in Hama province - a Sunni-majority area with a significant number of Alawites.

Eight pro-Assad militiamen were killed in the assault as they attempted to defend the village, the London-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," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Graphic images circulated online allegedly showing dead women lying in pools of blood trampled by the militants. 

Syrian-state news condemned the massacre.

On Thursday, the rebels captured control of the village "in revenge" for the recent surge in violence in Aleppo that has killed more than 300 people.

The rebel group said on Twitter that the capture of the town came in response to the recent air raids on Aleppo city in the north of the country which left hundreds dead.

Translation: "Given the vicious onslaught the Russian-backed militias have launched against Aleppo we have named this battle 'Victory for our people'"

It added that rebel groups were taking part in the operation were Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra Front, Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jamaa and Ajnad Homs.

Aleppo witnessed the worst violence since an earlier ceasefire reached in late February was breached.

Nearly 300 civilians were killed in a wave of violence that began on 22 April in Aleppo before a temporary truce brought some calm to the area.

The United Nations has sought in vain to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, which has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions.