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Syrian rebels attack Christian village, shelling ancient community

Syrian rebel fighters have attacked a regime-held, predominantly Christian village, commandeering a mountaintop hotel and shelling the ancient community from there, a nun and activists have said.

The nun said the assault began around dawn today with a suicide bombing at a regime checkpoint outside the village of Maaloula.

She said she heard firefights and regime air strikes.

Speaking by phone from a convent in Maaloula, she said regime troops have been deployed at the entrance to the village, while rebels have commandeered the Safir hotel overlooking Maaloula and surrounding caves.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the attack and said the rebels are from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.

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