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Shiites target of Syrian extremists

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

Syrian rebels, including Sunni extremists, stormed a village and battled pro-regime militiamen, killing more than 60 Shiite fighters and civilians in an attack steeped in the sectarian hatreds that increasingly characterize the civil war, activists said Wednesday.

In the raid, which occurs at a time when the West is worried that extremists are increasingly joining the rebellion, the victorious fighters raised black Sunni Islamist flags over the eastern village of Hatla.

In amateur videos, the fighters — some wearing al-Qaida-style headbands — vented anti-Shiite slurs and fired in the air.

“The homes of the infidel Shiites were burned,” the voice behind the camera in one video shouted as smoke rose in the background from several houses.

The attack Tuesday on Hatla, in Syria's Deir el-Zour region near Iraq, underlined the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict.

The regime called it a “massacre,” and some opposition members expressed concern about the nature of the attack.

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