Attacking the Shi’ite neighborhoods in the village of Hatla last week, Syrian rebels killed at least 60 people, chased a lot of others out of town, and burned a whole neighborhood of homes down for being Shi’ites.
This was the calling card of the al-Qaeda-backed Jabhat al-Nusra, who today decided to follow through on the killings of the past week with an encore, blowing up the village’s Shi’ite mosque.
Attacks on religious minorities have been a big part of why the Syrian Civil War has turned so polarizing, and so many sectarian militias have sprung up. The threats to Shi’ite mosques have also played a big role in getting regional Shi’ites to arm up and come to Syria to fight off the rebels’ most extreme elements.
The influx of (mostly religiously minded) Shi’ites in response to al-Qaeda has made it all the easier to recruit Sunni jihadists into the rebellion, which is why a growing chunk of the “civil war” is being fought on both sides by people from other countries.