April 20 - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visits an ancient Christian town recaptured from rebels last week. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
An ancient Christian town in Syria torn apart by war. Last week the Syrian army regained control of Maaloula from Islamist fighters. Maaloula's churches and monasteries attracted both Christian and Muslim pilgrims before the conflict. Now on Easter a church stands in ruins. Artwork has been salvaged but much is in disrepair. The town is filled with the scars of war. Homes are broken apart -- with little left but memories. Earlier on Sunday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the town, - a rare appearance outside central Damascus. State TV airs footage as he tours a damaged monastery. Assad's government has consistently tried to portray itself as the protector of the country's minorities, including the Christians who account for about 10 percent of the population. The Easter visit also highlights growing government confidence in recent gains against insurgents around the capital and along the Lebanese border. Islamist fighters, had taken over part of Maaloula in December and held several nuns captive until releasing them in March in a prisoner-exchange deal. On Monday government forces retook the town. The war in Syria is now entering its fourth year -- leaving behind a legacy of destruction and killing more than 150,000 people.