Syrian regime launches attacks on Sunni coastal town, increases austerity measures
The Syrian government shelled the coastal town of al-Mitras starting at dawn Saturday, according to the Associated Press. Sunni communities were the suggested target, heightening concerns that the town's isolation will allow regime forces to "cover up their crimes quickly." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that the regime has already killed at least 248 people from the two nearby Sunni towns of Bayda and Banias.
One Syrian activist said that the main fear is that the regime is "trying to clean this area of rebel supporters-that is, the Sunni community." Among the opposition, Sunnis represent the majority, while Christians and other Muslim sects have mostly aligned with the regime.
The regime also increased its austerity measures during the last week, raising gasoline prices by 25 percent. The Associated Press suggests that the price hikes will be "most punishing" for Syrians residing in rebel areas where fuel must be smuggled in accordingly. The hikes will further raise costs for food and heating costs for many households.