Reports are coming in of a violent attack on a Christian village in the mountains about 64 kilometres (40 miles) north of Damascus.
In the ancient village of Maaloula, the largely Christian community, still speak Aramaic - the language of Jesus. Yesterday (Wednesday) there was a major confrontation between Syrian soldiers and anti-government fighters assisted by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.
The number of casualties is not yet known. More than 80 frightened villagers have taken shelter in a convent that is home to 13 nuns and 27 orphans. A nun said that rebels had based themselves in a hotel and caves overlooking the village and were shelling the community below.
For more information on Maloula see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma'loula