The Syrian army recaptured on Monday an Alawite village in central Hama province where rebels “massacred” civilians earlier this month, state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 25 members of President Bashar Al-Assad’s Alawite sect were killed by Islamist fighters in the village of Maan on February 9.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon later expressed “great shock” at the killings and demanded that “perpetrators of this massacre” be brought to justice.
SANA, quoting a military source, said “army units have established total control over Maan, after crushing the terrorists who had infiltrated (the village) and committed a massacre against its civilian residents, killing dozens of them, including women.”
State television also reported the army’s recapture of Maan, saying 42 civilians had been killed by “terrorists,” the regime’s term for rebels.
The Observatory — which had reported 14 women among the dead — said Maan was retaken “after shelling and fighting.”
The Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of activists and medics inside Syria, meanwhile reported renewed regime air strikes on the central city of Homs for the second day running.
Last week the United Nations and Syria’s Red Crescent evacuated some 1,400 people who had been trapped inside rebel-held areas of Homs besieged by the army for more than 18 months.
The operation was made possible by a deal that included a ceasefire.
But it was suspended after clashes and shelling erupted on Sunday, with the rebels and the regime accusing each other of undermining the humanitarian operation.
In the Qalamun mountains near Damascus, shelling resumed on key rebel bastion Yabrud, which has been under fire since Friday from government troops backed by Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah.
In the northern Aleppo province, Alaa Jabbu, head of the rebel Kurdish Front, which has long battled the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, was killed in army shelling.
The Observatory also reported that a jihadist of German origins was killed alongside other fighters in a bomb blast in the rebel-held town of Minjeb in the northern Aleppo province.
Syria’s revolt began as a peaceful Arab Spring uprising in March 2011, but escalated into a bloody insurgency after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.
More than 140,000 people have been killed in the conflict and millions have fled their homes.