Syria: Assad visits recaptured Christian town of Maaloula
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has visited the recently recaptured Christian town of Maaloula on the occasion of Easter.
"On the day of the resurrection of Christ, and from the heart of Maaloula, President Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter, and for the reestablishment of peace and security throughout Syria," state television said on Sunday.
The report added that Assad had also toured a monastery damaged by recent clashes in the town, without giving further information.
The visit came nearly a week after Syrian armed forces retook full control of the ancient town in Qalamoun region as the army continues to gain more ground in its fight against opposition forces.
Maaloula was captured by rebels groups last December. The town is regarded as a symbol of the ancient Christian presence in Syria.
Assad has said that the war in his country has strongly shifted in favor of the government forces as they have made continued gains in their battle against terrorists.
The recapture comes after a string of successful army operations across the strategic Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon.
Syria has been the scene of a deadly crisis since March 2011. The Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are said to be supporting the militants operating inside Syria.
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- Syria's Maaloula nuns released Sunday after December kidnapping