On Monday, Syrian fighters burst into the ancient city of Maalyulya, 55 kilometers north of Damascus, captured the monastery of Saints Thecla, kidnapped a group of Catholic nuns and took them to a nearby town of Yabrud. According to the Papal ambassador to Damascus Mario Zinara, the fighters have at least 12 women headed by the abbess Balaji (Pelagea).
The local TV reports that al-Qaeda-associated jihadists stormed into the women’s community and made a pogrom there. Another several churches were defaced and robbed. In an effort to intimidate the population, the extremists opened fire at dwelling houses in the city streets.
The command of the government forces said it has already sent forces to the city to squeeze out terrorists from Maalyulya within a few hours. On Saturday there were already fightings between the Syrian army and a group of mercenaries. According to official data, the soldiers who came to the aid of the people’s self-defense fighters, dislodged the terrorists from the city. On Monday, Maalyulya was attacked by the fighters fleeing the city of Nabak, which is almost completely released by government forces.