BEIRUT: Rebels in the province of Hama have denied reports that they committed a massacre in an Alawite village, saying they killed only adult combatants in a pitched battle.
In a video posted on YouTube Monday, a media activist speaks to two fighters who claimed they took part in the weekend assault on the village of Maan.
They say that rebel fighters surrounded the village on three sides, leaving an exit route for the residents who wanted to flee. “As the fighting started, all of the women and children were evacuated,” one fighter said.
“When we entered, we only found shabbiha and female fighters, with sniper rifles and grenades. One of the women killed two of our fighters.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that roughly half of the 40-plus casualties were local fighters defending their homes, while the rest were civilians.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 12, 2014, on page 8.