Syrian rebel fighters withdrew on Thursday after briefly capturing a historic Christian town in the center of the country as part of a campaign to take control of strategic mountains near Damascus, opposition sources said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Free Syrian Army said Friday rebels captured and destroyed military positions during a battle outside the town of Maaloula.
Militias supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad remain in control.
The battles in the town this week spotlighted the delicate position of members of Syria\’s Christian minority, who have been protected in Maaloula by Assad forces. Residents fear al-Qaida-linked fighters in the rebel faction will try to destroy the community.
More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died since the conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, and the conflict has produced at least 1.7 million refugees.