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Where are the kidnapped Maloula nuns?

WHEREFORE MALOULA?: Clashes continued in the Christian village of Maloula […]

4 December 2013

WHEREFORE MALOULA?: Clashes continued in the Christian village of Maloula in Qalamoun Wednesday, two days after 12 nuns were kidnapped from the Mar Takla monastery (briefly shown in the video) when various rebel groups under Free Syrian Army leadership seized control of the village Monday.

The video shows a montage of shots from in and around Maloula, a formerly quiet village in the mountains north of Damascus, known as one of the few towns keeping Aramaic a live language in addition to a statue of Mary that overlooks residents from above.

Jabhat a-Nusra, Tahrir al-Qalamoun Battalion, al-Ghuraba Battalion, Tahrir al-Sham Battalion and the al-Omari al-Mansouwia Brigade were among the rebel groups that entered the village north of Damascus by reportedly rolling explosive-laden tires onto government positions.

“Forces entered Maloula because there are regime-controlled checkpoints that bomb everything that passes on the road,” a reporter for the opposition Sham News Network and a field activist for the Qalamoun Local Coordination Committee who asked to be identified as Taim told Syria Direct.

The Sham News Network reporter disputed widespread accounts that the nuns had been transferred to the nearby rebel-held village of Yabroud, one day after the General Committee for the Syrian Revolution said the nuns were in the care of a Christian family there.

The head of the Sadnaya Monastery in Qalamoun Sivronia Nabhat, confirmed those reports in an interview with Agence France Press Tuesday, saying she had spoken with Mother Pellagio of the Mar Takla Monastery who told her “the twelve nuns and three assistants are comfortable in a house in Yabroud.”

The Christian village has witnessed months of violent clashes between the armed opposition and Assad forces as rebel groups briefly seized the town in September after a Jordanian fighter’s suicide car bomb at the checkpoint leading into Maloula from the national highway opened the road to the rebels.

The renewed clashes in Maloula come as the Syrian army attempts to regain control of the entire Qalamoun region from the Free Syrian Army and various armed groups. This video depicts the damage from heavy shelling of the village, with destruction of churches and mosques. At 1:25, heavy fighting inside the village unfolds as gunfire pops and smoke rises, and at 1:45, a drive-through shot shows the destruction of the former touristic downtown. 

– December 4, 2013

Video courtesy of Qalamoun Syrian Media Center.

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