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

Syrian state media described the attack as a “massacre” perpetrated by terrorists, a term the government uses to describe rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Extremist Sunni Islamic fighters have come to dominate the armed uprising against Mr Assad, who is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The raid on Maan is likely to bolster efforts by the government delegation to convey their narrative at the Geneva peace talks that the three-year uprising to overthrow Mr Assad is dominated by al-Qaeda extremists. The extremists see Alawites as apostates who should be killed.

Keywords: Syria fighting

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