An attack by the rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra took place Thursday, 5 September, in Maaloula, a Christian village about 40 miles northeast of Damascus. The attack was preceded by a suicide bombing near an army checkpoint. According to sources of Syrian opposition in London, after a few hours of fighting the Islamist militants seiged the location. Sources on location, however, contacted by the agency MISNA, reported that the Syrian army had repelled the attack. It has not yet been possible to verify the news of a fire and the looting of St Elias Church.
Perched 1,400 metres high in the mountains, Maaloula (which means “high”) is home to the St Sergius and St Thecla monasteries and is a main Christian pilgrimage desitination. The only community in the world, about 3,500 people, who still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus, can be found in Maaloula.
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