Mystery continues to surround the fate of scores of people, mostly members of Syrian President Bashar Assadís Alawite Muslim sect, said to have been trapped and possibly killed this week in the town of Aqrab. The incident comes as a number of disturbing videos emerging from rebel-held areas of Syria seem to show Sunni Muslim rebels committing sectarian attacks, in one case torching a Shiite Muslim mosque in northern Idlib province.
Britainís Channel 4 News managed this week to reach the outskirts of Aqrab. Its version of events implicates the rebels.
The Channel 4 report quotes witnesses as saying the rebels entered Aqrab on Dec. 2 and "corralled around 500 Alawite civilians in a large red-colored, two-story house," according to a blog by Alex Thomson, the Channel 4 correspondent at the scene. The rebels sought to use the Alawite women and children as "human shields" to prevent government bombardment of a nearby rebel-held town, Channel 4 reported, citing witness statements. Channel 4 recounted that negotiations to release the prisoners faltered and on Monday rebels opened fire on the building where they were being held. According to the Channel 4 report, which aired Friday, about 70 prisoners escaped Tuesday but many people remained trapped in the building the day of the broadcast. Their fate could not be determined, the report said.