Maaloula is a town in northern Syria, located about thirty miles northeast of Damascus. Unfortunately, many of the most historic structures in the town have been damaged or destroyed. Most of the early dwellings, city walls and alleyways of the old city have collapsed over time. Further, during World War II, a large number of caves and archaeological cemeteries in the town were vandalized, damaged by artillery fire or turned into fortified barricades. The primary Christian site in Malloula, the tomb of St. Takla, was completely burned, and many of the holy items stored there were lost. Likewise, the monastery of St. Sergius and St.Bacchus, dating to early fourth century A.D., was significantly damaged by mortar shells. The Church of St. Leontius and the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian were also nearly destroyed by shelling. Finally, the church of St. Barbara suffered significant damage to its dome. Icons, paintings and other valuables were looted from all of these structures.