Israel Strikes Inside Syria Amid Reports of New Massacres

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog group said at least 51 people, including women and children, were summarily executed on Thursday in al Bayda.

That was followed by reports of more deaths in the Ras-al-Nabaa neighborhood of Baniyas.

The SOHR said hundreds of Sunni families were fleeing south to the port city of Tartous to escape what they said was sectarian killing by the regime.

State television said there were operations in the area that "drove back several terrorist groups" and showed rows of weapons it said had been seized from rebels. Rebel groups led by extremist fighters had been mounting operations in that area.

Also on Saturday, Assad visited Damascus University to greet students and inaugurate a statue for student "martyrs" of the two-year conflict. A photo showed the Syrian president getting a warm reception from students reaching out their hands to greet him.

The display of confidence was his second public event this week: On May Day, he thanked workers at a Damascus power plant.

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