Ruth Sherlock
December 20, 2012

A United Nations human rights report said on Thursday that the Syrian rebellion has pitted the Sunni majority opposition against government forces that are more widely supported by the country’s religious and ethnic minorities: “As battles between government and anti-government armed groups approach the end of their second year, the conflict has become overtly sectarian in nature,” said the report.

Syrian rebel groups won control of two villages in Hama province that are mainly populated by the country’s ruling minority Alawite sect: “The Free Syrian Army was able to get into two Alawite villages today. In Ma’an village to the east of Hama city they arrested some Shabiha [pro-government militia],” said a local activist calling himself Mousab al-Hamadee.

Another resident of Hama city, who used the name Abo Adnan al-Hamwi said: “There have been big clashes in Alawite towns in Hama countryside. The FSA took out a military base that the government had been using to shell other areas.” This was the latest in a string of opposition gains made this week in a province that is home to many rural communities of Alawites and Christians, and that has already suffered from sectarian brutality.

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