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Thursday 18 September 2014

Army attacks near Christian village

Published 09/09/2013 | 10:16

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A church in Maaloula village one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic (AP)

The Syrian army is attacking hills overlooking a rebel-held Christian-majority village near the capital Damascus.

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The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from the al Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front and the Qalamon Liberation Front still control Maaloula, an ancient village which is home to two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said troops attacked the hills around Maaloula early today under the cover of heavy shelling.

Rebels captured the village on Saturday.

The battle has thrown a spotlight on the deep-seated fears that many of Syria's religious minorities harbour about the growing role of Islamic extremists on the rebel side in Syria's civil war.

Press Association

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