Twelve civilians from Syria's Alawite minority, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, have been killed by jihadist fighters in the central province of Homs, a Syrian NGO said Wednesday.
Fighters from the Al-Nusra Front and another rebel group attacked three Alawite villages near the city of Homs Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Fierce clashes broke out between rebels and army troops," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
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The rebels entered the village of Maksar al-Hissan and "shot 12 Alawites to death before leaving the area."
Troops retook the village on Tuesday night, after clashes in which they lost two men and killed several members of Al-Nusra, he added.
The region, which is mostly home to Alawites and Bedouin communities, has been largely free of fighting over the past year.
Government forces control most of central Homs province, parts of which have suffered some of the fiercest fighting and destruction in Syria's 30-month war.