Propaganda or fact? You decide.
This was a heritage site that was built in the 4th century. Two months since news of the destruction seeped out. The Syrian govt. gives no clarification whatsoever and neither is there any concrete news from elsewhere.
....Militants have destroyed the ancient Christian Church of Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Ma'loula and have stolen or demolished its world-famous icons. A correspondent of ITAR-TASS agency saw it for himself on September 29.
This construction, which was the oldest in the Middle East, had been built in the early 4th century. There was a convent here lately; but after the coming of the terrorists and militants of Al-Nusra Front a month ago the sisters found refuge in the Convent of St. Thecla, Equal-to-the-Apostles, where at the present time they are taking shelter from the militants together with 40 orphaned children. It is still impossible to come up to this convent because of the heavy fire of snipers who do not even spare journalists.
The Church of Sts Sergius and Bacchus became "guilty" because of the building of the "Safir" hotel near it, where earlier numerous Christian pilgrims and tourists used to stay, but then Muslim extremists took their positions there. The Syrian army has almost leveled the hotel to the ground but the militants are still taking cover in its cellars and in neighboring grottos, converted into cells. Where monks used to live in ancient times, now there is sustained artillery fire.
A unique icon of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus painted in the 13th century, which was situated just at the entrance, has been lost forever. The iconostasis and its central icon, painted in the 13th century, have been destroyed together with the icons of the Mother of God and Christ "the Archpastor". The latter always evoked the surprise of researchers because it depicted Christ in a long robe of silk with golden threads which is more typical to Damascus of the 18th century than to the period of the beginnings of Christianity. There is no altar of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus any more. It was semicircular with a low edge—the legacy of pagan altars. Now only debris remains of it......