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Family of 13 Syrians killed in Sunni village, reportedly by forces loyal to Assad

| Sunday, July 21, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad killed at least 13 members of a family in the Sunni Muslim village of Baida on Sunday, in what activists said was the second massacre there.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four women and six children were among those killed in the village, which is in a coastal area of central Syria.

“A relative came to look for them today and found the men shot outside. The women and children's bodies were inside a room of the house, and residents in the area said some of the bodies were burned,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory.

In May, pro-Assad militias killed more than 50 residents of Baida and more than 60 locals in the nearby town of Banias.

Some of the bodies, many of them children, were found burned and mutilated.

Baida is part of a small pocket of Sunni Muslims in the Mediterranean province of Tartous, a stronghold for Assad's minority Alawite sect of Shiite Muslims.

The 2-year-old uprising against four decades of Assad family rule has been led by Syria's Sunni majority.

Sectarian clashes and alleged massacres have become increasingly common in a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.

On Saturday, a rare eruption of clashes was reported in the area between Assad's forces and the rebels in the coastal enclave.

The British-based Observatory, which has a network of activists across Syria, said all the victims had been executed.

Elsewhere, government troops fired mortar rounds that slammed into a main market in a town in northern Syria on Sunday, killing at least 20 civilians, activist groups said.

The mortar shells struck the town of Ariha, which is held mostly by opposition fighters, a few hours ahead of iftar, the meal that breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, two opposition groups tracking the violence in Syria, said the dead included two children and two women.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the shelling.

Separately, state media reported that government forces killed nearly 50 rebels in an ambush near Damascus.

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