HRW: Syrian regime forces behind mass killings

Associated Press
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In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian government solider aims his weapon during clashes with Free Syrian Army fighters, not pictured, in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. Heavy fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels flared again on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 in the ancient, predominantly Christian village of Maaloula. Troops are trying to flush out rebel units, including two that are linked to al-Qaida, from the hilltop enclave which they broke into last week. (AP Photo/SANA)

BEIRUT (AP) — An international human rights group is accusing Syrian government forces and pro-regime militias of summary executions that left at least 248 people dead in two predominantly Sunni Muslim towns along the Mediterranean coast earlier this year.

Sunni Muslims dominate the armed revolt against President Bashar Assad, who hails from the country's Alawite minority, a Shiite offshoot.

Human Rights Watch said in a new report Friday that the killings took place on May 2 and 3. The New York-based group says the report was based on interviews with survivors, including some who saw or heard their relatives being killed.

The report comes as intense negotiations by top American and Russian diplomats are underway in Geneva over securing Assad's chemical arsenal implicated in the alleged chemical attack last month that killed hundreds.