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Islamist rebels seize part of ancient Syrian Christian town, take nuns captive

Published time: December 02, 2013 20:59
Edited time: December 03, 2013 12:41
Historic city of Maaloula, northeast of Damascus (Reuters / Khaled al-Hariri)

Historic city of Maaloula, northeast of Damascus (Reuters / Khaled al-Hariri)

Islamist fighters have captured the ancient quarter of Maaloula, a predominantly Christian town and UNESCO heritage site in Syria, and are holding captive several nuns and their mother superior from the St. Thecla Convent, SANA reported.

The state news agency said that attackers "committed acts of  vandalism in the town's neighborhoods and around the convent,  attacking locals and targeting them with sniper fire."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said Monday that  fighters from the Al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front had captured the old quarter of Maaloula after several days of fierce fighting. However, they said they could not confirm information regarding  the convent.

The Observatory also reported that four rebels were killed in  fighting in the area on Monday. Over the weekend militants tried  to seize the town, but were fought off by the local militia  forces and Syrian soldiers.

Maaloula has a population of about 5,000 and is strategically  important to both sides because of its proximity to Damascus. It  is also close to the strategic central highway that links the capital to Homs.

Maaloula was the scene of heavy fighting in September when it  changed hands at least four times, with government forces eventually gaining the upper hand.

At the time residents told RT's correspondent Maria Finoshina who was in Maaloula that Islamist rebels resorted to looting, executions and forcing residents to convert to Islam.

Maaloula is home to many UNESCO world heritage sites, such as  shrines and monasteries, and is one of the birth places of  Christianity. It is also one of the few places in the world where  Western Aramaic is still spoken, a biblical language similar to  what Jesus would have spoken.

"In this town are situated some of the most ancient churches  and shrines, which are sacred for Christian believers," said  the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement in September.

Comments (20)


Md Israel 03.12.2013 18:37

@George Rizk: Judaism and Christianity both teach love and respect for the religion of others. It is for that reason that there is a strong alliance between the religions today. Check out CUFI (Christians United for Israel) where there are over a million members. There are other such organizations, too, but CUFI is the largest. This would not be possible if not for the fact that they have similar teachings.


Anna 03.12.2013 16:04

Pera Zdera 03.12.2013 12:47

bare in mind that those are mostly ortodox christians, so catholics/protestant s would actually like to see them dissapear anyway... no tears from the west.


Are you trying to sow hatred between orthodox, catholic and protestant Christians?


George Rizk 03.12.2013 14:54

There are three religions from the desert of the ME. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Two of the three Islam & Judaism teach dogma of hate against other religions. Christianity teaches love for all including your enemies. Hence, these two barbaric groups will continue strife and conflicts to dominate. The Islamists has committed genocide against the Christians after WWI, now they are repeating the holocaust in front of cell phone documentation for all humans to see, except NATO, US, Turkey, and Saudi who are slaves to the Zionists.

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