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BEIRUT February 9, 2014 (AP)
By DIAA HADID and BARBARA SURK Associated Press
Associated Press

Extremist Islamic rebels who overran a village in central Syria populated by the Alawite minority have killed at least 40 people, activists said Monday.

The report on the attack on the village of Maan in the central Hama province came as the Syrian Red Crescent was trying to get a cease-fire in the besieged city of Homs extended so it could deliver more aid and evacuate more people from the area.

Half of the victims in the attack, which occurred on Sunday, were civilians, including women, while the other half were village fighters defending their homes, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian state media described the attack as a “massacre” perpetrated by terrorists, a term the government uses for rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.

Islamic extremists, including foreign fighters and Syrian rebels who have taken up hard-line al-Qaida-style ideologies , have played an increasingly prominent role among the rebel fighters fighting forces loyal to Assad, who is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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