A new report by Human Rights Watch gives an unsettling glimpse of the sectarian slaughter that could attend the collapse of the Syrian government if recent gains by Islamist extremist groups are not checked. According to human rights group, Sunni Islamist rebel groups swept into majority Alawite villages along the coast in August, killing more than 190 villagers and taking another 200 civilians hostage. The massacre was the first large-scale atrocity attributed to the rebel opposition, and it plays directly into the narrative of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, who continues to insist the opposition primarily consists of Al Qaeda linked terrorists. Meanwhile, the Sunni extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has planted its flag on captured territory in northern Syria, putting a potential terrorist sanctuary on the border with NATO-ally Turkey. Both developments will put increased pressure on the Obama administration to more forcefully back secular Syrian opposition groups who are losing ground to the Islamist extremists.