Syrian rebels have taken control of a historic Christian town, north of Damascus.
Government troops withdrew from the town after fierce fighting with rebel forces overnight.
Maalula is considered a symbol of the Christian presence in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.
Meanwhile President Barack Obama is preparing to personally make his case to the American people on the need for action against the Syrian regime, in a series of network TV interviews.
Setting the stage today, the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will hit the morning television talk shows.
In Congress, meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel and others senior administration officials will hold a briefing for all members of the House of Representatives on Monday.