The leader of al-Qaeda offshoot al-Nusra Front, a terrorist group fighting in Syria, has called for increased attacks against civilians belonging to Syria's Alawite minority.
The Syrian Alawite minority is often targeted by anti-government fighters and Western media, being labeled as a "ruling" minority in the country because President Bashar Assad is an Alawi. The al-Nusra Front and allied groups have previously massacred hundreds of Alawi civilians during offensives against the Latakia province in 2013 and 2014.
"There is no choice but to escalate the battle and to target Alawite towns and villages in Latakia and I call on all factions to…daily hit their villages with hundreds of missiles as they do to Sunni cities and villages," the group's leader Abu Mohamad al-Golani said, according to Reuters.
In 2014, al-Nusra and moderate factions of the Free Syrian Army ethnically cleansed the Armenian population of the town of Kessab in Syria's Latakia province. The moderate fighters also looted and burned Armenian homes, stores and churches while raping elderly women who were unable to flee the town, according to reports at the time.
The United States has also bombed al-Nusra positions in recent months after inventing a separate name for it, the "Khorasan Group," apparently to avoid associating it with the al-Nusra, which is allied to portions of the Free Syrian Army. Al-Nusra's head al-Golani has denied the "Khorasan Group's" existence.