Members of Syria's Russian community visited the ancient Orthodox Monastery of Saint Thecla in Maaloula, located some 50 kilometres north of the capital Damascus, on Saturday
The town and the monastery were badly damaged after being taken over by the Jabhat al-Nusra militant group in December 2013. It was liberated by the Syrian army in April 2014.
«When the militants attacked the church, a lot... Еще of things were destroyed and looted. All the icons were looted,» explained Inna Baritko, member of the Russian group.
With the visit coming just two weeks before Easter, Tatiana Laeva, another member of the group, said that the trip to the monastery has a special meaning.
«For each one of us this holiday is special, and so is this trip. Why? Because for a very long time we couldn’t leave because of military actions. But since the situation has become more or less stable, we decided to visit the holy places,» she said.
Built into the rough mountainside at an altitude of more than 1500 metres, Maaloula is known as one of the last three settlements in the world where Aramaic — the language of Jesus Christ — is still spoken.