Syrian rebels are currently engaged in an ongoing battle in the town of Maaloula, a region located in the north of Damascus, which is home to a mixed population of Christian and Muslim religions.
Many of those standing their ground to protect the town are from the National Defense, akin to a territorial army. These fighters support President Bashar al-Assad, and have been drafted into the region to bolster the strength of existing ground forces.
According to BBC News’ Jeremy Bowen, Assad’s forces claim the rebel fighters are fleeing like rats. However, this allegation is partially refuted by the intensity and duration of the violent clashes, which, during Sep. 11, has endured for over ten hours.
This comes in the wake of reports that the Syrian government’s forces had resumed control of the town.
The town originally fell to Syrian rebels on Sep. 4, when a Jordanian suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near a government-established checkpoint, leading into the small town. A wave of rebel forces overtook the checkpoint and infiltrated a nearby hotel, setting up a post, with which they used to fire upon the Maaloula community.
So far, it appears government forces have been unsuccessful in extricating the al-Qaida-linked rebel groups from the mountaintop Safir hotel.
By: James Fenner
Huffington Post Source