(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT - Anti-regime jihadist militia have entered the Saint Tecla Orthodox convent in the Christian village of Maalula, 60 kilometers north of Damascus, SANA state news agency reported Monday.
''Local sources said terrorists broke into the convent, taking Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and other nuns hostage'', SANA reported.
The National Observatory for Human Rights in Syria confirmed rebels have retaken Maalula but made no mention of hostage-taking in the convent.
Nuns at Saint Tecla Orthodox convent were forcibly evacuated, but it is not clear whether they were taken hostage after jihadist rebels seized the village of Maalula north of Damascus on Monday, the Apostolic Nuncio to Damascus, Monsignor Mario Zenari, told ANSA. The Nuncio cited sources in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
Jihadists first seized the Christian village in September, damaging its churches. Expelled by loyalist and Christian militias, they took up positions in nearby hills, keeping the village center under sniper fire.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the BBC that a UN investigation into human rights violations in Syria has found evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ''the highest levels of government have authorized war crimes and crimes against humanity in his country''. This is the first time the UN High Commission has leveled such a direct charge at Assad.
The UN investigation had earlier uncovered evidence that Syrian rebels have also committed human rights abuses. (ANSAmed).