BEIRUT: A nun and activists say rebel fighters have attacked a regime-held, predominantly Christian village, commandeering a mountaintop hotel and shelling the ancient community from there.
The nun, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, says the assault began around dawn Wednesday with a suicide bombing at a regime checkpoint outside the village of Maaloula.
She says she's heard firefights and regime airstrikes. The nun, speaking by phone from a convent in Maaloula, says regime troops are deployed at the village's entrance, while rebels have commandeered the Safir hotel overlooking Maaloula and surrounding caves.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirms the attack and says the rebels are from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.