Fighters from an al Qaeda-linked rebel group killed 12 members of the minority Alawite sect in central Syria after seizing their village, an opposition monitoring group said on Wednesday.
The killings occurred after rebels of the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, stormed the village of Maksar al-Hesan east of the city of Homs on Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Observatory's director Rami Abdelrahman told Reuters that the Nusra Front fighters then shot dead at least 12 Alawite civilians in the village, including some women and elderly.
He said the reason behind the killings was unclear, but they may have been executions.
Walid al-Fares, an activist in Homs, denied, according to Reuters, that rebels had killed civilians in the area and said that Alawites who died on Tuesday were killed while fighting on the government's side.