Al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists in Syria say they are targeting members of the Alawite community in the country, adding that they massacred dozens of Alawites in three Homs villages last week.
On Sunday, terrorist group Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks in which at least 30 Alawites, including several women, children and elderly men, were shot dead in cold blood.
Al-Nusra said in an internet statement that its militants entered the villages of Massudiyeh, Maksar al-Hissan and Jab al-Jerah in Homs province and carried out the massacre.
The group said one of its jurists asked them to slay Alawites whom he called "enemies of God".
"… this was the first time these villages were entered and such a high number was killed," it added.
Last month, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, a commander of al-Nusra, threatened to target Alawites with rockets.
"On top of that we will prepare a thousand rockets that will be fired on their towns in revenge for the Damascus Ghouta massacre," he said in an audio recording posted on YouTube on August 25.
Al-Nusra and other militant groups fighting against the Syrian government and people accuse Damascus of launching the August 21 chemical weapons attack which they claimed killed about 1400 people.
The government has rejected the accusation, saying it has proof that the militants were behind the attack.
On August 24, the Syrian forces found chemical agents in tunnels dug by the militants in Jobar, near Damascus. A number of soldiers suffocated as they entered the area.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.
According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence.