Syrian activists who oppose President Bashar Assad reported clashes between government troops and Al Qaeda linked rebels over a regime-held Christian village in the southwest of the country  on Thursday.
Head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the Associated Press that the fighters of the Al Qaeda affiliated Nusra front had entered the Christian village of Maaloula overnight on Wednesday .
Despite being a regime stronghold and dominated by the presence of the army, the Observatory reported that the rebel fighters patrolled Maaloula's streets and surrounded a church and a mosque.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and professionals in Syria for its information, reported that the rebels left Maaloula on Thursday morning. It added that heavy clashes and loud gunfire could be heard coming from the surrounding mountains as government troops battled Nusra fighters.