More than 60 killed by Syrian regime in Sunni neighborhood

Cairo, May 4 (EFE).- More than 60 people, including women and children, have been executed by forces of the Syrian regime between Friday and Saturday in the Sunni-majority neighborhood of Raas Nabea in the coastal city of Banias, activist groups said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a communique that 62 bodies have been found in the area, while the Syrian Revolution General Commission raised the number of fatalities to 87.

Ras al Nabaa, where hundreds of civilians had fled, was besieged and bombarded by troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

After that attack, pro-government militias or "shabiha" burst into the neighborhood, rounded up the inhabitants from houses and public squares and started the executions.

According to the Observatory, the militias are Alawis, a branch of Shiite Islam professed by al-Assad and top officials in the government and armed forces.

The commission said that 22 women and nine minors were among those executed by gunshots or by having their throats cut.

Some bodies were burned by the militias, who wiped out some entire families, the opposition group said.

Opposition groups previously reported that hundreds of civilians had fled Banias to the nearby town of Tartus because of the regime's bombardments.

The city of Banias is split demographically between the Sunnis and the minority Alawis, while in the suburbs of the town the majority are Alawis.

In the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, over 70,000 people have died and more than 2 million are displaced, according to United Nations figures.