The rebel attack earlier this month on the Syrian village of Maaloula heightened worries that the conflict there is becoming increasingly sectarian, with some members of the historic Christian community there fleeing and saying churches had been desecrated. However, some of the residents the BBC has spoken to have challenged this narrative.

The violence in the village earlier this month centred around a pro-government checkpoint set up at the southern entrance of the village by the military, with some members from the National Defence Force, a newly-formed militia of community members, mainly Alawites and Christians.

Rebel fighters say they had had control over the northern side of Maaloula, on top of the Qalamoun mountain, for the last eight months.

There had been some rounds of fighting around the village in the last few months, but the world’s attention was only drawn to Maaloula on 5 September, when a fighter affiliated to the jihadist al-Nusra Front drove up to the check point and blew himself up, killing several soldiers and pro-government militiamen.  [Link]