Syria's Assad pays Easter visit to recaptured Christian town

Reuters
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President Bashar al-Assad Assad's Easter Sunday.

Photos uploaded on the Syrian Presidency's Facebook and Instagram pages shows him visiting the ancient Christian town of Maaloula on the holy holiday.

It was a rare appearance outside central Damascus for the embattled president who has been at war with rebels for well over three years.

State media says Maaloula, north of the capitol, was recaptured from rebels last week.

Islamist fighters, some linked to al Qaeda, had taken over part of the town in December.

They held several nuns captive until releasing them in March in a prisoner-exchange deal.

The retaking of Maaloula was the latest in a series of advances against rebels in this mountain area near Lebanon.

Assad's visit comes as officials and allies in Lebanon and elsewhere say they're increasingly confident that the Syrian leader is secure in his position.

Islamist fighters, some linked to al Qaeda, had taken over part of the town in D

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