`Syria Islamists celebrate Shi`ite deaths`

Sunni Islamist rebels celebrated the killing of some 60 Shi`ites and burned their homes in eastern Syria, according to a video.

Updated: Jun 12, 2013, 19:46 PM IST

Beirut: Sunni Islamist rebels celebrated the killing of some 60 Shi`ites, mostly pro-regime fighters, and burned their homes in eastern Syria, according to video distributed by a group monitoring the civil war.

The videos emerged on Wednesday, a day after a major clash in a village in Deir Ezzor province that pitted Shi`ites against Sunnis, a fresh sign that the conflict is becoming increasingly sectarian.

"The Sadeq al-Amin (rebel) brigade is getting ready to assault the houses of Shiites who support the regime of (President Bashar al-) Assad in the village of Hatlah," an unidentified cameraman who filmed one of the videos says.

A dozen men can be seen in the courtyard of a house, showing off a man`s disfigured corpse.

"Look Shi`ites, this is how you will end up, you dogs," cries one man.

"Sunnis, help your community," says another man, wearing a black bandana inscribed with the Islamic profession of faith.

The video was distributed by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A second video also distributed by the Observatory showed a dozen armed men standing in what appears to be the outskirts of the village, while towers of grey smoke rise in the background.

"God is greatest. All the Shi`ite houses have been burned down... Look at the fighters of the jihad (holy war) celebrating their entry into the Shi`ite infidels` houses," says the man filming the video.

The majority of Syria`s population is Sunni but has been ruled by more than 40 years by the Assad clan, who belong to the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shi`ite Islam.

Lebanese Shi`ite group Hezbollah`s support for the Assad regime has further heightened sectarian hatred in Syria, particularly after rebels lost the central town of Qusayr to government forces aided by Hezbollah fighters last week.

Boosted by their victory in Qusayr, regime troops advanced on parts of the nearby city of Homs, the Observatory said.

The Britain-based group said the Army`s goal was to seize rebel-held pockets in the city, which have been totally besieged for a year.

"The regime forces took control of large areas of Wadi Sayeh," a Homs neighbourhood, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told a news agency.

"They are slowly advancing in the district. The neighbourhood is under bombardment, and it is the scene of fierce clashes," he added.

Should the Army crush insurgents in Wadi Sayeh, they will come a step closer towards taking down rebel strongholds in Khaldiyeh and the Old City neighbourhood.

"The Army is trying to take control of the whole of Homs city," dubbed the "capital of the revolution" by activists, said Abdel Rahman.

Meanwhile, pro-regime daily Al-Watan said the Army had taken over the whole of Wadi Sayeh.