Islamist Nusra Front forces have re-captured Syria’s oldest Christian community from government troops in a night of fighting. The small village of Maaloula, once a peaceful spiritual place, became a battlefield on Wednesday.
The rebels captured the symbolically important village after forcing out government troops, who had previously pushed the insurgents to the mountainous outskirts of the village, reports AFP citing local sources.
"The rebels are inside Maaloula, all of Maaloula. The government troops have pulled out of Maaloula," a resident told the agency by phone.
The London-based pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group reported that the opposition received reinforcements, which helped them take control. The battle left at least 17 rebels dead and more than 100 wounded, the Observatory said. There were no immediate casualty reports from the government forces.
RT’s crew traveled to the site only to find themselves in a crossfire between government forces and rebels.
“It’s hard to believe that what used to be one of the most significant shrines of the Christian community all over the world is a battlefield now,” Maria Finoshina reported from outside the village............