Thousands of Syrians were fleeing coastal areas Saturday following two massacres, allegedly carried out by government forces in a campaign of sectarian cleansing.
The mass exodus came after reports that 77 Sunni Muslims were killed in Baniyas, and a day earlier 72 were massacred in the nearby village of al-Bayda.
Syria seen sectarian clashes and alleged massacres become increasingly common in the two-year-long conflict that has killed tens of thousands and sent more than a million Syrians to seek refuge in neighboring countries, AP reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about 4,000 people were trying to escape Saturday amid fears pro-government gunmen “might commit a massacre.”
The organization posted a video online showing the bodies of 10 people it claimed were killed in Ras al-Nabaa, Reuters reported.
Among them were children, including a toddler covered in burns, her legs charred.
The US State Department tweeted its condemnation of one of the reported massacres:
— Department of State (@StateDept) May 4, 2013