Tag Archives: Monday

BREAKING NEWS – Pakistan’s Karachi airport under attack

File Photo: Pakistani policemen cordon the airport in Karachi.

File Photo: Pakistani policemen cordon the airport in Karachi.

Gunmen attacked a cargo and VIP area of Karachi‘s international airport late on Sunday night, engaging in a heavy firefight with security forces and killing at least four of them, Pakistani security officials said.

The officials said that at least eight attackers were involved, and that the fighting was continuing early on Monday morning.

Security forces sealed off the airport, and flights began being diverted away from Karachi within minutes of the fighting. Witnesses saw smoke rising from the airport’s old terminal, and one Pakistani news channel aired footage of at least one plane on fire nearby.

Senior police official Rao Muhammad Anwar says the militants are armed with automatic weapons and grenades and exchanging gunfire with security officials.

 

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Confirmed: Ukrainian air force fired over 150 missiles at Lugansk, bombed admin HQ

Kiev has admitted showering the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk with dozens of missiles from the air, saying that its Air Force helicopters and jets “fired more than 150 missiles” in Monday’s military action.

DEATH TOLL: 181 people killed, 293 injured in Kiev military op

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also confirmed on Tuesday that the deadly explosion at the city’s administrative building was indeed an airstrike. Kiev has so far denied the responsibility for the incident, saying its forces “do not target” civilian areas.

The OSCE Ukrainian mission’s daily report stated that “on June 2, around 15:00 local time missiles hit the building of the regional government administration. According to the observers’ data, the strike was carried out with non-guided missiles launched from an aircraft.”

According to an earlier statement by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, the intense bombing in Lugansk area was meant to “support the Ukrainian Border Guards,” which the local militia have been trying to take under control.

“All in all, for fulfilling the combat support of the Ukrainian border guards the army aviators fired more than 150 missiles, carried out three jet sorties and five helicopter sorties,” the statement says.

The air support was backed by fighter jets launching decoy flares to prevent the attacking aircraft from being targeted from the ground.

According to the ministry, two self-defense checkpoints were destroyed in the attack.

Not all the Monday fighting was on the outskirts of Lugansk, apparently, as one Ukrainian missile hit the occupied Lugansk administration building, killing at least eight civilians inside and nearby. Some Kiev politicians have laid the blame on the self-defense forces for the “blast,” which has undoubtedly been confirmed as an airstrike by the accounts of witnesses and the CCTV footage from the scene.

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US flying manned intelligence missions over Nigeria in missing girls search, official says

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The U.S. military is flying manned missions over Nigeria in hopes of locating the hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group last month, a senior official tells Fox News.

The official said the manned missions are intelligence and surveillance missions. At a press briefing Monday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. had experts in a variety of areas, including reconnaissance and surveillance, working on the case of the missing girls. However he said he did not have a “catalog” of the specific resources the experts were using.

“They are actively involved in working with the Nigerian government to provide the advice and the expertise that they can provide to assist in that effort,” Carney said.

The information comes as a new video, believed to be from Boko Haram, the group behind the kidnappings, surfaced Monday showing more than 100 of the kidnapped Christian schoolgirls praying to Allah.

The video also features the Islamic terror group’s leader – who was reportedly negotiating with the government – saying he will hold the girls until imprisoned militants are freed.

When asked about the option of trading the girls for imprisoned militants, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday, that is up to Nigeria.

“As you know, Nigeria is in the lead. We are simply supporting their efforts. As you know also the United States’ policy is to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts including ransoms or concessions,” Psaki said at a press briefing.

The video is the first sighting of the abducted girls since more than 300 were taken April 14 from their school in the northern town of Chibok by Islamist militants. Although more than 50 girls escaped their captors and are now safe, at least 276 remain missing.

The search so far has centered on the Sambisa forest, with Nigerian troops being aided by advisers from the U.S., Britain and France.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren clarified the U.S. presence in Nigeria for reporters Monday, saying there are more than 50 U.S. military personnel and advisors based at the Nigerian Embassy to help “advise and assist” in the search for the missing girls. The teams have expertise in “communications, logistics, civil affairs, and intelligence,” Warren said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Kiev military take positions in eastern Ukraine as operation starts

Members of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry walk past a MI-8 military helicopter and armored personnel carriers at a checkpoint near the town of Izium, eastern Ukraine, April 15, 2014.

The coup-imposed Ukrainian government has amassed military hardware near the eastern Ukrainian towns refusing to recognize Kiev’s rule, and rallying for the country’s federalization. Videos from the area show tanks, APCs and army helicopters.

Following the Tuesday announcement of an “anti-terrorist operation” by the coup-imposed acting president Aleksandr Turchinov, armored vehicles have been spotted moving and taking positions kilometers away from the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, where activists seized several administration buildings with the assistance of armed self-defense volunteers.

While Slavyansk is in the Donetsk region, sightings of groups of military vehicles have been reported in the neighboring Kharkov and Lugansk regions, where pro-Russian and anti-Kiev sentiment is high.

Some 40 kilometers from Slavyansk in the Kharkov region town of Izyum, hundreds of troops with armored vehicles, including tanks and a helicopter, have been filmed by media and amateur reporters.

The force is being described as a mix of army troops, Ukrainian special forces and the so-called National Guard troops loyal to Kiev, with some reports claiming armed radical Right Sector members have also been transferred to the area. The unusual mix is explained by the fact that Ukrainian army divisions have previously refused to act on orders from Kiev to crack down on eastern Ukrainian protesters.

Late on Monday, dozens of armed Ukrainian vehicles moving in the direction of Slavyansk were filmed by locals in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Near the town of Volodarsk, a massive force was spotted on the move.

Locals opposing Kiev’s military operation have repeatedly tried to block the movement of the military, in one instance halting a tank in Rodninskoye town on Monday. The vehicle was manned by young conscripts who eventually chose to shut down the engine and negotiate with the people.

Kiev has ordered military vehicles transferred to Ukraine by Russia from Crimea, to move to eastern Ukraine to cover up for the lack of hardware, a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti.

 RT News

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No sign of crackdown as Ukraine deadline passes

Armed pro-Russians storm police stations

Armed pro-Russians storm police stations

A Ukrainian government deadline for pro-Russian protesters to lay down their arms and leave occupied buildings passed Monday with no sign of it being heeded in the eastern cities of Donetsk or Slaviansk.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov had given the protesters until 2 a.m. ET to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by its armed forces.

But the deadline passed with no movement at the regional government building in Donetsk, which has been occupied for more than a week, and where barricades have been strengthened in the last few days.

In Slaviansk, pro-Russian protesters milled around with makeshift shields outside the occupied police station.

Similar deadlines in the past passed with no consequence.

Turchynov had issued a promise of amnesty for the activists — made up of protesters as well as armed militants who in recent days have stormed public buildings and planted Russian flags on them — in eastern Ukraine but warned that anyone who continues to support the takeover of government buildings would be held responsible for their actions.

“We’ll not allow any repetition of the Crimean scenario in the east of Ukraine. I have signed a decree that would allow those who did not shoot at our officers to lay down their arms and leave the occupied buildings by Monday morning without fear of being prosecuted,” he said.

Turchynov added that anyone who supports violence will be punished.

“We are ready to consider a significant expansion of regional powers of all regions and the wider reform of local self-government. However, all those supporting aggressors and occupiers in an armed struggle against our country will not escape punishment and will be prosecuted,” he said.

No top Ukrainian officials immediately posted any updates to mark the passing of the deadline.

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​Moscow warns Kiev against using military, mercenaries in southeastern Ukraine

The headquarters of Russia's Foreign Ministry in Moscow

The headquarters of Russia’s Foreign Ministry in Moscow

The Russian Foreign Ministry has voiced concerns over the buildup of Ukrainian forces and US mercenaries in the southeastern part of the country, calling on Kiev to immediately cease military preparations which could lead to a civil war.

As parts of Ukraine push for greater autonomy – with Donetsk and Kharkov declaring independence on Monday – the self-imposed government in Kiev is reportedly dispatching additional forces in turbulent regions to avoid potential disobedience by local law enforcements.

“We are particularly concerned that the operation involves some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the [Ukrainian] special task police unit Sokol,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Organizers and participants of such incitement are assuming a huge responsibility for threatening upon the rights, freedoms and lives of Ukrainian citizens as well as the stability of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, confirmed that additional police special forces units have arrived in southern and eastern parts of Ukraine from other regions.

“These special forces are ready to solve operational problems without the regard to local peculiarities,” Ukraine’s Interior Ministry quoted Avakov as saying. “I urge all the hotheads now to defer from criticism and panic, and help the police keep the situation under control.”

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, special forces backed by militants from the Right Sector are being tasked with suppressing protests in the southeastern regions of Ukraine, which for weeks have been calling for a referendums on the regions’ statuses within Ukraine. Moscow called on the government in Kiev to refrain from actions that could spark a civil war in Ukraine.

“We urge [Kiev] to immediately stop all military preparations which could lead to a civil war,” the statement reads.

On Monday, a source in the Interior Ministry of Ukraine told Ria Novosti that three special forces units have been redeployed to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions to suppress anti-government protests. The source claims that they consist of Interior Forces units, the newly-formed National Guard, Right Sector radicals, and Blackwater (Greystone) mercenaries and Falcon units. LifeNews also reported seeing armed Titan special forces units in Donetsk.

The reports of Greystone Limited (an affiliate of Academi/Blackwater) operating in Ukraine remain unconfirmed.

In a separate press release on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it is “closely watching what happens in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, in particular in the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov regions.”

Moscow noted that without “real constitutional reform in Ukraine,” the “federalization” of the country, and the implementation of Russian as a second official language, long-term stabilization of the crisis is unlikely.

The ministry said that is time to stop “putting the blame on Russia, accusing [Moscow] of all the troubles in today’s Ukraine.”

Instead, Moscow urged Kiev to answer the legitimate questions that people in Ukraine have for the self-imposed government.

“Ukrainian people want to get a clear answer from Kiev to all their questions. It’s time to listen to these legal claims,” the Foreign Ministry said, accusing the Ukrainian government of acting “irresponsibly.”

At the same time, the ministry confirmed the Kremlin’s commitment to kickstart a national Ukrainian dialogue to stop the crisis. Russia is trying to propose the federalization of Ukraine, where regions would have broader powers of autonomy – including the right to promote regional language minority rights.

Meanwhile, the US hinted that Moscow could be behind the unrest in eastern Ukraine. In a daily briefing, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki stated that during the phone conversation between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, the US chief diplomat “noted the Ukrainian Government’s assertion that this appeared to be a carefully orchestrated campaign with Russian support.”

“He called on Russia to publicly disavow the activities of separatists, saboteurs, and provocateurs, calling for de-escalation and dialogue, and called on all parties to refrain from agitation in Ukraine. He made clear that any further Russian efforts to destabilize Ukraine will incur further costs for Russia, and the ministers all discussed convening direct talks within the next 10 days between Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the EU to try to de-escalate the tensions.”

The White House has also urged Russia to refrain from interfering in Ukraine. “We call on President Putin and his government to cease efforts to destabilize Ukraine,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

On Monday, a group of anti-coup activists seized government buildings in Ukraine’s eastern cities of Donetsk and Kharkov, proclaiming the regions’ independence from Ukraine. Clashes between pro-independence demonstrators and security forces were also witnessed in Lugansk and Odessa.

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Breaking news – Putin signs order to recognize Crimea as a sovereign independent state

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DETAILS TO FOLLOW

President Vladimir Putin has signed an order that Russia recognizes Crimea as a sovereign and independent state. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea held a referendum on Sunday with over 96% voting for integration into Russia.

“According to the will of the peoples of the Crimea on the all-Crimean referendum held on March 16, 2014, [I order] to recognize the Republic of Crimea, in which the city of Sevastopol has a special status, as a sovereign and independent state,” the document reads.

The order comes into force immediately.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Crimea was declared an independent sovereign state, the Republic of Crimea, on Monday, the autonomous Ukrainian regional parliament’s website stated.

Crimea also addressed the UN seeking recognition as a sovereign state.

“The Republic of Crimea intends to build its relations with other states on the basis of equality, peace, mutual neighborly cooperation, and other generally agreed principles of political, economic and cultural cooperation between states,” the parliament said.

The Crimean parliament also unanimously voted to integrate of the region into Russia.

The parliament’s resolution comes after Sunday’s referendum which resulted in over 96 percent of voters answering ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia. The overall voter turnout in the referendum was 81.37%, according to the head of the Crimean parliament’s commission on the referendum, Mikhail Malyshev.

He also stressed that there were no complaints concerning the voting process. Those international observers who came to Crimea made an official statement on Monday that the vote was free and conformed to international standards.

The international reaction to the Crimea’s referendum and its resolution was the implementation of sanctions. On Monday the EU and US slapped visa bans and financial restrictions against Russian and Ukrainian officials.

The White House stated that “the actions and policies” of the Russian government with respect to Ukraine “undermine democratic processes” and “threaten its peace,” sanctioning 11 officials. While the EU late on Monday introduced a list of 21 Russian and Crimean political figures that will be sanctioned for 6 months.

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Malaysia Airlines jet disappearance an ‘unprecedented aviation mystery’

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A helicopter prepares to land on board the China Maritime Safety Administration ship Haixun-31 in southern China’s Hainan province Sunday, March 9. The ship is expected to join an ongoing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines’ passenger plane that vanished on Saturday. (The Associated Press)

Updated :

Plane door spotted in ocean not recovered in overnight search

Radar indicates jet may have turned back before vanishing

Authorities investigating up to four passengers with suspicious identifications

Pair on stolen EU passports had onward reservations

Plane carried 227 passengers and 12 crew members, including 2 infants

2 Canadian passengers identified

A Vietnam rescue team sent to investigate a “yellow object” floating in Vietnam’s waters said it is not a life raft from a Malaysian plane that went missing with 239 people aboard.

Earlier Monday a minister said Vietnam has scrambled rescue helicopters to check the object.

A Vietnamese jet had seen the object earlier on Monday but was unable to get close enough to determine what it was, Pham Quy Tieu, Vice Transport Minister and deputy head of the country’s rescue committee, told Reuters.

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The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said on its website searches were being conducted about 140 kilometres southwest of Tho Chu island, which is located about 200 kilometres off the coast of southern Vietnam.

‘Unprecedented aviation mystery’

The disappearance of the jetliner is an “unprecedented aviation mystery”, a senior official said on Monday, with a massive air and sea search now in its third day failing to find any confirmed trace of the plane or 239 people aboard.

The head of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said a hijacking could not be ruled out as investigators explore all theories for the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route to Beijing.

“Unfortunately we have not found anything that appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft,” he told a news conference.

“As far as we are concerned, we have to find the aircraft, we have to find a piece of the aircraft if possible.”

As dozens of ships and aircraft from seven countries scour the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, questions mounted over possible security lapses and whether a bomb or hijacking could have brought down the Boeing airliner.

Interpol confirmed on Sunday at least two passengers used stolen passports and said it was checking whether others aboard had used false identity documents.

Flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, after climbing to a cruising altitude of 10,670 metres.

A Vietnamese navy plane reported seeing what could have been a piece of the aircraft as darkness fell across the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea on Sunday, but ships and aircraft returning in daylight have so far found nothing.

malaysia-airlines-map

Underlining the lack of hard information about the plane’s fate, a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft capable of covering nearly 3,900 square kilometres every hour was sweeping the northern part of the Strait of Malacca on Monday, on the other side of the Malay peninsula from where the last contact with MH370 was made.

“Our aircraft are able to clearly detect small debris in the water, but so far it has all been trash or wood,” said U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Commander William Marks in an emailed statement.

Shares in Malaysia Airlines fell as much as 18 per cent to a record low on Monday morning.

No distress signal

No distress signal was sent from the lost plane, which experts said suggested a sudden catastrophic failure or explosion, but Malaysia’s air force chief said radar tracking showed it may have turned back from its scheduled route before it disappeared.

A senior source involved in preliminary investigations in Malaysia said the failure to quickly find any debris indicated the plane may have broken up mid-flight, which could disperse wreckage over a very wide area.

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“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” said the source.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical causes.

Still, the source said the closest parallels were the explosion on board an Air India jetliner in 1985 when it was over the Atlantic Ocean and the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988. Both planes were cruising at around 9,500 metres when bombs exploded on board.

The United States extensively reviewed imagery taken by American spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none, a U.S. government source said. The source described U.S. satellite coverage of the region as thorough.

Boeing declined to comment and referred to its brief earlier statement that said it was monitoring the situation.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service. Its only previous fatal crash came on July 6 last year when Asiana Airlines flight 214 struck a seawall on landing in San Francisco, killing three people.

Stolen passports investigated

About two-thirds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew now presumed to have died aboard the plane were Chinese. The airline said other nationalities included 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French, three Americans and two Canadians.

The passenger manifest issued by the airline included the names of two Europeans – Austrian Christian Kozel and Italian Luigi Maraldi – who were not on the plane. Their passports had been stolen in Thailand during the past two years.

An Interpol spokeswoman said a check of all documents used to board the plane had revealed more “suspect passports”, which were being investigated.

“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol’s databases,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said.

Malaysia’s state news agency quoted Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying the two passengers using the stolen European passports were of Asian appearance, and criticised the border officials who let them through.

“I am still perturbed. Can’t these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian, but with Asian faces,” he was quoted as saying late on Sunday.

A European diplomat in Kuala Lumpur cautioned that the Malaysian capital was an Asian hub for illegal migrants, many of whom used false documents and complex routes including via Beijing or West Africa to reach a final destination in Europe.

“You shouldn’t automatically think that the fact there were two people on the plane with false passports had anything to do with the disappearance of the plane,” the diplomat said.

“The more you know about the role of Kuala Lumpur in this chain, the more doubtful you are of the chances of a linkage.”

via Malaysia Airlines jet disappearance an ‘unprecedented aviation mystery’ – World – CBC News.

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China Sides With Russia On Ukraine

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Russia on Monday said it had a powerful ally supporting its actions in Ukraine: China.

The Russian government said China is “in agreement” with Russia, whose troops occupy the Crimean region of Ukraine, Sky News reported.

But when asked about Ukraine at a regular press briefing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang answered indirectly.

China, which consistently says it opposes interference in other countries’ internal affairs, is looking to “maintain principles” on Ukraine, it said Monday after Russia insisted the two were in broad agreement.

“China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations,” the Chinese spokesman said.

“At the same time, we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue. It could be said that China’s position is to both maintain principles while also seeking to be realistic.”

Russia has appeared keen to stress that it has a major international ally on its military intervention in Ukraine, and Beijing frequently backs Moscow’s positions against Western powers on thorny issues, such as the protracted conflict in Syria.

But, analysts say, China is torn between wanting to support Russia and maintaining its longtime opposition to foreign intervention, especially given its own separatist issues in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

China also noted, however, that “there are reasons that the Ukrainian situation is what it is today”.

Niu Jun, a professor of international affairs at Peking University, said China wanted to maintain its relationship with Russia but had strong concerns about foreign intervention.

“It’s all very inconvenient,” he said. “That’s why they came out with a statement nobody can understand.

“What this statement is really saying is, ‘what Russia did was not right and China does not want to support this military invasion’. But China also wants to support Russia, so it came up with excuses,” such as Russia’s history with Crimea and Ukraine’s internal situation, he said.

James Jeffrey, a retired career U.S. diplomat, told Reuters that the days and months ahead will be vital. If Putin faces few long-term consequences for seizing Crimea, it will set a precedent for China and other regional powers who may be considering establishing 19th-century-style spheres of influence of their own.

“The Chinese,” Jeffrey said, “are in the same position.”

Earlier, Moscow’s foreign ministry said that Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, in a phone call, noted “broadly coinciding points of view of Russia and China over the situation that has developed in the country and around it”.

Yet China’s account of the conversation was less direct, saying that the two men “thoroughly exchanged views on the matter” and agreed that “appropriately resolving” the situation was important to regional peace and stability.

Russia has found itself internationally isolated over its covert military intervention in Ukraine, and on Monday its stocks and currency collapsed amid fears of a prolonged military campaign.

The other members of the G8 nations on Sunday released a statement condemning Russia for violating international law and suspending their participation in a G8 summit scheduled for Sochi in June.

China is not a member of the G8.

China and Russia cooperated on vetoing three U.N. Security Council resolutions to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad, although they voted through a resolution this month on allowing humanitarian aid convoys into Syria.

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Islamist rebels seize part of ancient Syrian Christian town, take nuns captive .

Islamist fighters have captured the ancient quarter of Maaloula, a predominantly Christian town and UNESCO heritage site in Syria, and are holding captive several nuns and their mother superior from the St. Thecla Convent, SANA reported.

The state news agency said that attackers “committed acts of vandalism in the town’s neighborhoods and around the convent, attacking locals and targeting them with sniper fire.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said Monday that fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front had captured the old quarter of Maaloula after several days of fierce fighting. However, they said they could not confirm information regarding the convent.

The Observatory also reported that four rebels were killed in fighting in the area on Monday. Over the weekend militants tried to seize the town, but were fought off by the local militia forces and Syrian soldiers.

Maaloula has a population of about 5,000 and is strategically important to both sides because of its proximity to Damascus. It is also close to the strategic central highway that links the capital to Homs.

Maaloula was the scene of heavy fighting in September when it changed hands at least four times, with government forces eventually gaining the upper hand.

At the time residents told RT’s correspondent Maria Finoshina who was in Maaloula that Islamist rebels resorted to looting, executions and forcing residents to convert to Islam.

Maaloula is home to many UNESCO world heritage sites, such as shrines and monasteries, and is one of the birth places of Christianity. It is also one of the few places in the world where Western Aramaic is still spoken, a biblical language similar to what Jesus would have spoken.

“In this town are situated some of the most ancient churches and shrines, which are sacred for Christian believers,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement in September.

Islamist rebels seize part of ancient Syrian Christian town, take nuns captive — RT News.