Jabhat al-Nusra and rebels capture Hama town, allegations of atrocities

al-Nusra aerial photo of Zara. Source. 

On 12 May, the rebel Northern Homs Operations Room captured the Hama village of Zara, partially populated by members of the Alawite sect, from the local NDF outfit. The Operations Room is made up of Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham, Faylaq al-Homs, 'Ahl al-Sunnah wa'l Jamaa'a, as well as other small local groups and is active in the northern parts of the Rastan pocket of Northern Homs/Southern Hama. The attack follows an agreement reached two days prior between local FSA coalition Harakat Tahrir Homs and the SAA, which led to the loyalist withdrawl from the town of Jarjisah, northeast of Zara.

Official logo of the Northern Homs Operations Room. Source.

Following the taking of the town, reports came out of the killings and abductions of many of Zara's Alawite civilians. Both Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra press releases displayed the dead bodies of Zara residents, though it is unclear whether they were armed or not. While not much verified information has subsequently come out, pro-rebel sources the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the official Facebook page of the Local Coordination Committies have condemned reported on and condemned these actions. Member groups of the Northern Homs Operations Room have since claimed that the civilians were armed members of the NDF militia.

A map showing the fighting around Zara. Source.