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In Syria, heavy fighting is continuing in and around the strategic town of Maaloula which is only 43 kilometres from Damascus, close to the Lebanese border.

Syrian army troops took a group of journalists with them, claiming to have secured the area but latest reports say rebel fighters linked to al Qaeda have regained control.

Maaloula is an ancient Christian town and is on a UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

Concerns are growing for members of its Christian community which has in the past been attacked by Islamist fighters who accuse them of sympathising with the Assad government.

The town is strategically important as it lies on a communications and supply corridor with the Lebanese border.

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