Foreign-backed al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad have gained control over the Christian village of Maalula, reports say.
According to the so-called Syrian Observatory as well as the residents of the historic town located some 70 kilometers northeast of the capital, Damascus, the militants are currently in control of the entire village.
The British-based group said the militants have sent reinforcement to the area, forcing Syrian Army to leave the mountain village.
“The rebels are inside Maalula, all of Maalula. The government troops have pulled out of Maalula,” a resident said on condition of anonymity.
The reports come after days of clashes between Syrian army forces and militants mostly from the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front in the Christian village.
Many of the town’s 5,000 Aramaic-speaking residents have fled their homes since the militants, known for killing minorities, arrived in the area.
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