At least 30 people were killed in the Syrian city of Homs over the weekend in a spasm of sectarian violence that, analysts fear, could transform the uprising against the Assad regime into an all-out civil war.The weekend violence was precipitated by the discovery of three dead Alawi security personnel on Saturday. When six more bodies were discovered the next day, some Alawi men “went to the street and torched, robbed and destroyed at least 12 shops belonging to Sunnis,” a resident told Reuters.
Al-Jazeera reports that Homs is a “microcosm” of Syria’s religious divides: a majority Sunni Muslim population lives alongside sizable communities of Christians and Alawis—the minority Muslim sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Many anti-regime activists worry that sectarian conflict will jeopardize their efforts to force Assad from power, and fear that Syria could explode into the same kind of sectarian civil war that paralysed neighbouring Iraq for years. Meanwhile, regime allies have employed the specter of sectarian conflict to posture itself as the only thing preventing societal chaos.
“These clashes are a dangerous development that undermines the revolution and serves the interests of its enemies who want to turn it into a civil war,” Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said in a statement today.
Most of the violence in Syria since March has been inflicted by the government on anti-regime protestors. More than 1,600 civilians and 350 Syrian security personnel have been killed so far.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.