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 al-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.
Syrian rebels fight army near Christian village