Watchdog: 60+ bodies found in Syrian city

Beirut - The bodies of at least 62 murdered residents have been found in a Sunni neighbourhood of the Syrian city of Banias, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.

"The bodies of dozens of citizens killed on Friday during an assault by the army and Alawite members of the National Defence Forces in the Sunni neighbourhood of Banias were discovered on Saturday," the Observatory said.

"We have identified 62 citizens by their names, photos, or videos, including 14 children, and the number could rise because there are dozens of citizens who are still missing."

The mass killing is the second "massacre" to be reported in the Banias area this week.

On Thursday, the Observatory said at least 50 people had been killed in the Sunni village of Bayda, south of the coastal city of Banias.

"Witnesses from the village say no less than 50 civilians were killed, including women and children," the group said.

"Some were summarily executed, shot to death, stabbed or set on fire."

After the deaths, which were reported on Friday, regime forces began shelling several Sunni neighbourhoods of Banias, prompting residents to flee the area early on Saturday.

"Hundreds of families are fleeing Sunni neighbourhoods in Banias in fear of a new massacre," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

"They started fleeing at dawn this morning [Saturday] from Sunni neighbourhoods in the south of the city towards Tartus and Jableh," he added.

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