As many as 30 people may have died in Homs, Syria over the weekend. The AP cites one Syrian dissident group that says initially three victims died in apparent sectarian violence - a troubling new development in the mostly secular uprising against the rule of Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad. The victims, like Assad, were said to be from Syria's minority Alawite sect, affiliated with Sunni Islam, and members are considered part of Syria's ruling class.Even as Assad's regime releases dozens of protesters in Hama, his security forces continue gunning down protesters in nearby Homs. The violence appears to be the result of three pro-Assad people being found killed and mutilated, and the security forces and pro-Assad militias taking their vengeance upon other sectarian groups.
The report cites another Syrian activist who suggested the toll may be lower. The three slayings apparently triggered speedy retaliation in Homs, as six more people from different sects were then murdered. Then, armed Syrian government supporters opened fire in Sunni neighborhoods in apparent attacks of terror and vengeance.
At the same time, Al Arabiya and Voice of America report more Syrian troops are massing the town of al-Boukamal, near the Iraqi border, populated with Sunni residents who oppose Assad. The VOA reports Syrian troops killed five townspeople over the weekend, including a teenage boy, and thousands of angry residents surged into the streets. Dozens of Syrian troops defected to join them. Now the town is reportedly surrounded by hundreds of Syrian troops and tanks. Al Arabiya cites Syrian government newspapers that say the situation in Al Boukkamal is "explosive" so the army will "intervene".
Recall that Assad is part of a minority Alawite sect, and are vastly outnumbered by Sunni Muslims so sectarian violence would not bode well for Assad's regime. Assad continues to try and show that his regime has support of the country and they're busy trying to bring out the bodies for demonstrations in Damascus and those videos get shown on national tv, but videos and reports of Assad's thugs brutalizing protesters gets no coverage as Assad tries to bury any evidence of his regime's violent crackdown.