Syria Christian village Maaloula Raided by Al Nusra rebels

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Heavy fighting between rebels and regime forces continues in Syria's predominately Christian village of Maaloula, which was earlier partially destroyed by Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels. "There are clashes just inside the town in the western district between Popular Committees (militia) and rebel forces," director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul Rahman, told AFP. "There are also clashes between soldiers backed by militias and rebel fighters around the area of one of the entrances to Maaloula," he said. State television citing a military source reports several rebels have been killed and their weapons destroyed as the army targeted a hotel and surrounding positions on the outskirts of Maaloula, north of Damascus, where a group of rebels were stationed. Maaloula -- a mountain village of 2,000 residents, 60km northeast of Damascus - is home to some of the most ancient Orthodox Christian relics and is a major pilgrimage destination. It's also one of the very few places in the world where people still speak Aramaic, a biblical-era language that Jesus is believed to have spoken. An RT news crew traveled to the site, but was not allowed to enter the city for safety reasons.

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