Syria’s Sunni Rebels Besiege Shi’ite Villages

35,000 Shi'ite Civilians Trapped in Surrounded Villages

by Jason Ditz, October 18, 2012

Underscoring the increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian Civil War, we get news today of the villages of Zahraa and Nubl, two Shi’ite dominated villages in the Aleppo region, both of which are completely surrounded by Sunni rebels.

An estimated 35,000 villagers are trapped in the villages with no chance of escape, with rebel snipers gunning down anyone who tries to leave. The rebels claim that the villages were housing “pro-regime gunmen.”

In theory Syria is a secular state, but with the leadership mostly made up of Shi’ites, the rebels have attracted a following of foreign Sunni Islamist factions, and some regional Shi’ites have flocked to Syria to fight against them.

What this means in the long run for Syria remains to be seen, but years of bloody violence in religiously split Iraq eventually forced minorities out of integrated districts and left the nation a patchwork of refugees on both sides. In the long run, sectarian tensions may also mean Shi’ite villages in a Sunni dominated portion of Syria are no longer sustainable.

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