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Is Syria's uprising taking a sectarian turn?(VIDEO)

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(Read caption) In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian policemen carry the coffins of police and army members who were believed killed in recent violence during their funeral procession outside of a hospital in the central city of Homs, on July 18.

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

A weekend of fatal sectarian clashes in the Syrian city of Homs was followed by a military operation last night that increased the city's death toll by at least 10.

The clashes between Sunnis and its Alawites, a minority sect that includes the Assad family, threaten the mostly nonviolent nature of the antigovernment uprising that began in March.

But activists argue that the regime is intentionally trying to incite sectarian fighting in hopes that the threat of further clashes would cause Syrians to turn toward the regime as a guarantor of stability, Bloomberg reports. The government has repeatedly blamed the violence on religious extremists and foreign saboteurs trying to stir up sectarian strife – something the repressive regime has kept a lid on for decades.

Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, told Bloomberg that Shabeeha, a group of gunmen with close ties to the government, entered Homs on Monday night and have "tried to foment divisions between the Alawites and the Sunnis, and between Muslims and Christians."

"There is no sectarian fighting," he said. "The government is trying to promote tension to legitimize the use and entry of its army into all areas."


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