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Report on: Maaloula Syria

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Al-Qaeda-linked rebels have attacked a Christian village in Syria, Maaloula – home to one of the world’s oldest monasteries. The army has secured much of the township – but residents say radical opposition fighters have seized nearby hills – and are firing indiscriminately at the community. RT’s  Maria Finoshina reports (September 06, 2013).

Syria government forces are conducting an operation against Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel fighters, who have besieged the ancient Christian village of Maaloula. The army says the extremists have taken strategic positions on nearby hills – and there are still rebel forces inside the village. Maria Finoshina reports from the outskirts of Maaloula (September 07, 2013).

The Syrian army has sent reinforcements, including tanks, to the village of Maaloula – which has been at the forefront of heavy clashes this week. An ancient Christian sanctuary, Maaloula has been besieged by Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels since Wednesday, September 04, 2013. RT’s Maria Finoshina has gained access to the stricken area (September 08, 2013).

[September 08, 2013] The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the attempts made by the armed opposition in Syria to take over the city of Maaloula, a symbol of the Christian presence in Syria.

“Moscow is deeply concerned over the fact that terrorist attacks in Syria have affected Maaloula, a symbol of the Christian presence in this country. Its residents speak the Aramaic language, which is almost extinct and is the language in which Jesus Christ preached, and the churches located in this city are among the oldest and most honored churches of Christians,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s information and press department said in a commentary released on Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called “on everyone who cares about the fate of the people of Maaloula to do everything possible to prevent their killing and the destruction of Christian holy places.”

“Terrorist attacks need to be stopped immediately. Special responsibility for them rests with those forces in the region and outside of it that encourage terrorists, intentionally or not,” the document says.

The Syrian army is battling small groups of rebels who remain in the ancient Christian village of Maaloula. Opposition fighters linked to Al-Qaeda have been in control of the area for almost a week – reportedly looting religious sites and forcing residents to convert to Islam at gunpoint. RT’s Maria Finoshina made it to the village following reports that government troops have re-captured it – but found pockets of resistance remain (September 12, 2013).

This is (or was) Maaloula Syria (2008)

‘In a remote village nestled in Syrias picturesque Oalamoun mountains, resides a small Aramaic community. It is one of the last and it is devoted to preserving Aramaic: the language that Jesus spoke. Protecting this 3000-year-old language has united Malulas residents: Christians and Muslims are like brothers in this town, says local resident Ibrahim Kamar. Whilst Mel Gibsons The Passion of Christ has revived interest in the language, fears that Aramaic is dying out continue. Malula, where the orphans must recite in Aramaic, is one of the last bastions for a language Mother Superior Savaf describes as a gift from God.’

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