DAMASCUS, Syria — Opposition fighters have abducted 12 nuns from a predominantly Christian village near Damascus and taken them to a rebel-held town, the mother superior of a Syrian convent said Tuesday.
The statement by Febronia Nabhan, Mother Superior at Saidnaya Convent, came as Syria’s state TV reported that a suicide attacker set off his explosive vest in an unspecified government institution in Damascus, killing four and wounding 17. The TV gave no further details about the blast in the central Jisr Abyad neighborhood.
Such blasts in Damascus are not uncommon. Some have killed scores of people in the city.
Nabhan said Tuesday that the nuns and three other women were taken the day before from another convent in the predominantly Christian village of Maaloula to the nearby town of Yabroud.
Syrian rebels captured large parts of Maaloula, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of the capital, on Monday after three days of fighting.
Assault on Christian Town in Syria Adds to Fears Over Rebels
by Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad
BEIRUT, Lebanon — For Syrian rebels fighting in recent days around the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, any gains made in battle could be wiped out in the war of perceptions.
Their incursion into the town, led by extremist Islamists, reinforces the worst fears of Syrian Christians and could bolster President Bashar al-Assad’s claims that he is the Christians’ protector. It may also complicate President Obama’s task as he struggles to convince Americans that a military strike against Mr. Assad will not strengthen Islamic extremists.
All that remains of Abu Mohammed’s ancestral home here in Syria’s capital are two small adobe brick rooms and a few fig, loquat and mulberry trees. It was bulldozed as part of a government slum-clearance program that appears to have a political motive: isolate neighborhoods sympathetic to Syria’s armed insurrection, and then obliterate them, according to critics, human-rights groups and even some officials within the government itself