Military Retakes Syrian Christian Town Overrun by al-Qaeda

Maaloula Is One of Many Remote, Heavily Contested Towns

The ancient Christian town of Maaloula is once again under Syrian government control today, after being overrun by al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra over the weekend.

The town is one of many in the remote Qalamoun border region, which as the civil war stalemates is increasingly becoming the de facto frontier between the two regions.

The town has been contested off and on for months, with al-Qaeda occupying it in early September and holding it for several weeks, leaving civilians trapped in their homes for a long time. The Islamist rebels insisted their interest in the town was only in ensuring the military did not control it.

That’s the story of Maaloula and many other places in Syria all over, with neither side particularly interested in towns above and beyond their strategic value, and the locals trapped in the middle of seemingly endless fights.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for 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.