The damaged church of Saint Sarkis and the Bacchus monastery in the ancient Christian town of Maalula, 56 kilometers northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus, on May 14, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID)
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The historic Christian town of Maaloula stands a shadow of its former self, abandoned and war-scarred, a month after Syrian government forces expelled Islamist rebels.The damage is nowhere near as heavy as in places like Homs, where entire neighborhoods have been flattened in Syria's three-year war.It lasted seven months, with the army finally expelling opposition forces, including Al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front, in mid-April.There are no signs of reconstruction in the town, whose 5,000 residents are largely Greek Catholic, with a Muslim minority.The army has closed Mar Taqla, which jihadists ransacked and used as a military post.On the road to Mar Sarkis monastery, sandbags piled up by rebels stand outside caves overlooking the town that were used as military positions.
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