Fear of massacres forces Syrians from their homes
Syrian army forces, who are loyal to President Assad, who are those believed to have perpetrated the recent attacks in the west of Syria. Image for illustrative purposes.
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Hundreds of families were fleeing Sunni districts of the Syrian city of Banias on Saturday, fearing new attacks after a "massacre" in a nearby Sunni village, a watchdog said.
"Hundreds of families are fleeing Sunni neighbourhoods in Banias in fear of a new massacre," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
"They started fleeing at dawn this morning from Sunni neighbourhoods in the south of the city towards Tartus and Jableh," Abdel Rahman added.
The exodus comes after shelling on Sunni neighbourhoods of the city on Friday, and reports of a "large-scale massacre" in a Sunni village nearby on Thursday.
Abdel Rahman said Friday's shelling of the Sunni district of Ras al-Nabaa killed at least nine people.
"No fewer than nine people were killed in the neighbourhood, but more are missing so the toll could go up," he said.
Video from Ras al-Nabaa shot by activists and distributed by the Observatory showed a pile of bloodied bodies lying in a street, a least one of them that of a child.
The exodus follows reports of a "massacre" of at least 50 people in the Sunni village of Bayda, south of Banias.
The Observatory said the deaths were the result of summary executions and shelling.