Scars of war: Ancient village of Maaloula still in ruins 6 months after jihadists left (VIDEO)

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A handout picture taken with a fisheye lens on April 16, 2014 shows icons and religious objects strewn on the ground inside the Mar Taqla Greek Orthodox monastery in Syria’s ancient Christian town of Maalula after it was reportedly retaken by government forces. (AFP Photo / HO / SANA)
More than six months since jihadists left the ancient village of Maaloula, the historic site is still ruined and deserted. Its churches and monasteries lie in ruins, and no peace or tranquility has returned to this once-thriving spiritual center.

Formerly a popular place of pilgrimage among both Christians and Muslims from all over the world, Maaloula became the scene of intense fighting between the Al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front and the Syrian Army since September 2013.

Clashes over the village were continuing for eight months.

RT’s Marina Finoshina visited Maaloula six months after Syrian soldiers expelled the jihadists and “restored security and stability.” Liberated in April, the ancient village has not still recovered. Previously home to nearly 4, 000 people, only a handful of residents now live in Maaloula.

“I used to live with nuns and I was in Damascus when the attack happened – we couldn’t come back for a long time. Our patriarch opened a school for kids from Maaloula and we were teaching in Damascus for almost a year. Finally, now we can come back,” resident Amal Al Taweel Maaloula told RT.

READ MORE: Islamist rebels seize part of ancient Syrian Christian town, take nuns captive

The village of Maaloula is some 60 kilometers northeast of Damascus. Located on a highway between the capital and Homs, built into a rugged mountainside, it was long an ancient sanctuary on the UNESCO list of proposed World Heritage sites.

Alongside Catholic and Orthodox monasteries there are the remains of numerous convents, churches, shrines and sanctuaries. It is also one of the very few places in the world where people still speak Western Aramaic, the Biblical language that Jesus is believed to have spoken.