World News

Sep 9, 2013 5:19 AM by Associated Press

Syrian army attacks hills around Christian village

BEIRUT (AP) - A Syrian activist group says the army is attacking hills overlooking a rebel-held Christian-majority village near the capital Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighters from the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front and the Qalamon Liberation Front still control Maaloula, an ancient village that 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 Monday 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 harbor about the growing role of Islamic extremists on the rebel side in Syria's civil war.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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