Residents of a Christian village in western Syria have taken shelter in a convent as it was bombarded by al Qaeda-linked rebels.

The rebel fighters stormed a hotel atop a mountain overlooking Maaloula to carry out the attack, said a nun, speaking on condition of anonymity from a convent in the village.

“It’s a war. It has been going from 6am in the morning,” she said.

Some 80 people took refuge in the convent, which houses 13 nuns and 27 orphans.