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Activists say Syrian government dispatches reinforcements to Maaloula, following clashes with rebels there

Last modified: 6 Sep 2013 13:05

Activists say the Syrian government has dispatched reinforcements to a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus where rebels have clashed with regime troops this week.

The director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the government forces sent to Maaloula include tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Rami Abdul-Rahman says that they have taken up positions outside the village, which is still under the control of local pro-regime groups.

Al-Qaeda-linked rebel factions attacked Maaloula on Wednesday, and briefly entered the mountainside sanctuary before withdrawing late Thursday.

Abdul-Rahman says the two sides were skirmishing around the village on Friday.

The attack on Maaloula spotlighted fears among Syria's religious minorities about the growing role of extremists in the rebel ranks fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad's regime.