Heavy Fighting Continues in Syria’s Christian town of Maaloula

Nusra Says They Will Withdraw if No Govt Forces Are Allowed In

Fighting between Syrian government forces and the al-Qaeda faction Jabhat al-Nusra continues today in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, with neither side willing to give ground and the remaining Christian population still trapped in a convent.

Nusra forces began contesting the village last week, taking a hill-top hotel and using it as a base from which to shell the surrounding area. The small military post in the town fell over the weekend, and has been burned.

Unconfirmed reports emerged from survivors of the Nusra fighters forcing villagers to convert to their brand of Islam, and there have also been claims of ancient churches being damaged.

Al-Nusra says now that it will agree to withdraw from the village if the locals agree not to allow the Syrian government to return either, though it seems that in practice that’s not a workable solution for either side, and the Christian population remains stuck in the middle.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.