- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels attacked a regime-held Christian village in Maaloula Wednesday morning as militants commandeered a mountaintop hotel and opened fire on the community below.

A nun, speaking to the Associated Press by phone from a convent in the village. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Rebels from the al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group reportedly launched the assault on the Christian village, a nun, who is hiding out in a convent in the village, told the Associated Press.

At the start of the attack, an al-Nusra fighter blew himself up at a regime checkpoint at the entrance to the village, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The rebels eventually seized the checkpoint and disabled two tanks, the Observatory said.

At least eight regime soldiers were killed in the fighting, the group told AP.

“It’s a war. It has been going from 6 a.m. in the morning,” the nun said, adding that the convent houses 13 nuns and 27 orphans.

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Around 80 people from the village had come to the convent for safety, she told AP.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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