Islamic State (IS) jihadists have regained control of a town believed to be home to hundreds of Christian families.
The group launched a surprise attack on the town of Al-Qaryatain, which was being guarded by government forces, early on Sunday.
The town, in the central province of Homs, is known as a symbol of interfaith coexistence – Christians are thought to have accounted for between 900 and 2,000 of the 30,000 residents before civil war broke out in 2011. It is not known exactly how many Christians are still resident there. Al-Qaryatain also contained the tomb of a saint venerated by both Muslims and Christians.