Damascus (AsiaNews) - For the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch "the five nuns from the Monastery of St Thecla (Maaloula) have reached Yabrud and are in good condition; however, nothing is known as yet as to why Islamist rebels took them or when they will be released."
Islamist rebels have been holding the five nuns - not 12 as initially reported - since Monday after bursting into the monastery and forcing them to go with them to Yabrud, some 80 km north of Damascus. Now 35 sisters are left in St Thecla.
Meanwhile, in the small town, the cradle of Syrian Christianity, Islamist rebels have started setting fire to all the houses owned by Christians.
"No one is left in Maaloula. Those who fled are pained over these attacks. Residents are listening helplessly at reports about the destruction of their homes," said local sources, anonymous for security reasons.
Such actions, sources note, are the result of "anti-Christian hatred by Muslim extremists" and are "unrelated to the war."