Did they use U.S.-supplied weapons?
“Syrian Troops Launch Offensive After Dozens Killed,” by Albert Aji and Bassem Mroue for the Associated Press, December 13 (thanks to Twostellas):
Syrian soldiers surrounded an industrial area near Damascus Friday after an al-Qaida linked rebel faction infiltrated the area earlier this week, reportedly killing dozens of civilians, according to the government and activists.
Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, entered buildings housing workers and their families, shooting men, women and children in Adra, northeast of the capital, according to the reports. Most residents of the area are from the minority Alawite and Druse sects, which largely support President Bashar Assad in his fight against mainly Sunni rebels.
The exact death toll could not be determined. State-run Syrian TV reported that scores of civilians have been killed since Wednesday, prompting the army to surround the town.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it has documented the names of 19 civilians killed “” most Alawites and Druse “” and many more were feared dead after the rampage by the Islamic militants.
Syria’s 23 million people belong to a patchwork of different religious groups, and the three-year conflict has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones in the past year, particularly as fighting brigades composed of al-Qaida loyalists gain influence.
Assad is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, as are many of his security forces. Other minorities in the country including Christians, Druse and Shiites have mostly sided with Assad or remained on the fence, fearing a takeover of the country by Islamic extremists.
A Syrian opposition figure who was in touch with people in the area said extremists were looking for people and killing them on a sectarian basis, adding that the number of dead civilians could be in the “dozens.”
“Some people are being shot and others are being beheaded. They include Christians, Alawites, Druse and Shiites,” the opposition figure said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
He added that when militants tried to kill a Shiite man, he took out a grenade he had with him and blew it up killing himself, his wife, mother, brother and son and several of his attackers….