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BAIDA, Syria (Reuters) - Awakened by the sound of gunfire, Ahmad could hear the armed men knocking on his brother's door, shouting insults and calling the family "dogs".Ahmad's sister-in-law said the gunmen told her husband to "bow to your god, Bashar" -- the Syrian president. She and her husband and their two teenage sons were dragged towards the village square."She told me her son's knees were bloodied as they kicked and dragged him," Ahmad said.When the violence was over, Ahmad ventured out from his hiding place in an attic. In less than two hours, Baida, his picturesque village near the Mediterranean, had become the scene of one of the worst mass killings in Syria's two-year-old war.As the country fragments under the weight of civil strife, troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad have made gains against rebel fighters in a counteroffensive to secure a corridor linking the capital Damascus with the president's clan heartland on the coast. Baida, a tiny pocket of rebel sympathizers surrounded by pro-Assad villages, was an ideal place for the government to deliver a harsh message.International peace talks are expected to be held in Geneva next month, but there is little hope of a breakthrough to end a war that has already killed 80,000 -- and left Baida a shell.A few steps from his home, somewhere near the main village square, Ahmad discovered his brother's body."He had been stripped of his clothes," he said, reading from his own record of what he saw. He paused and composed himself. "He had been shot in the head, and the bullet left a gaping hole the size of a hand. His blood had been shed on the ground."For almost 90 minutes, Ahmad described how he found torched bodies and evidence of mass killings: in one case 30 men, and in another, 20 women and children who had hidden in a small room.He read out the names of the dead, their occupations, ages and relations to each other, and the positions of their bodies. The attack left dozens of his relatives and neighbors dead. Ahmad recorded every detail so that history might judge.