Syria’s crisis started as largely peaceful uprising against Assad’s rule in March 2011 but turned into a civil war after opposition supporters took up arms to fight a brutal government crackdown. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the violence.
The SNC on Tuesday accused the government of carrying out several ‘‘massacres’’ during the holy month of Ramadan alone, killing hundreds of civilians.
The Observatory reported heavy fighting in Latakia throughout Tuesday while SANA said the army launched a counter-offensive and by evening, recaptured two villages. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Also Tuesday, pro-government daily Al-Watan said rebel kidnapped Sheik Badreddine Ghazal, a prominent Alawite cleric in Latakia region. The paper said he was taken Monday from the village of Barouda, one of those captured by earlier rebels.
A government official in Damascus confirmed Ghazal’s abduction saying the cleric was ‘‘severely beaten’’ by his captors. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, did not give further details.
Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.