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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Witnesses Describe Killings in Syria to BBC

As my colleagues Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada reported earlier this month, residents, opposition activists and human rights monitors in Syria said that hundreds of civilians were killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in two Sunni Muslim enclaves in the largely Alawite and Christian province of Tartus.

On Tuesday, the BBC broadcast interviews with women who said they had witnessed atrocities in the village of Bayda and the nearby city of Baniyas in a video report from Syria by the correspondent Ian Pannell.

The claims of massacres in the region come two years after unrest there was first documented in video posted online, showing a brutal security crackdown by pro-Assad fighters on the men of Bayda and protests outside the town by its women.

One section of Mr. Pannell’s report, about 70 seconds in, features video said to have been recorded by a member of a pro-Assad militia after the massacre this month in Bayda’s main square. The blood-stained square will be familiar to readers who were following the conflict two years ago, when another leaked clip, shot from almost the exact same vantage point, showed pro-Assad fighters kicking and standing on the bodies of the town’s men, who were forced to lie face down on the ground with their hands bound behind their backs.

Video, said to show a security crackdown in the Syrian town of Bayda in April, 2011, was posted online by opposition activists that month.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.