In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Free Syrian army fighters fire their weapons during clashes with government forces, unseen, in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian anti-regime activists say government troops and al-Qaida-linked rebels are fighting over a regime-held Christian village for a second day.
The director of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, says the fighters of al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group entered the Christian village of Maaloula overnight.
Despite heavy army presence in the village in Western Syria, Abdul-Rahman says the rebels patrolled its streets on foot and in vehicles, briefly surrounding a church and a mosque.
He says the rebels left Maaloula early Thursday morning and heavy clashes between President Bashar Assad's troops and Nusra Front fighters have raged since then in surrounding mountains.
The Observatory has been documenting conflict since it started in March 2011 and has relied on a network of activists on the ground.
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