Conflict & Justice

Ancient Aleppo minaret destroyed in Syria clashes


A picture taken on April 16, 2013 shows the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque complex in the old part of Syria's northern city of Aleppo. After nine months of fighting that has devastated many districts in Aleppo, rebels now control more than half of the city.



An ancient minaret on one of Syria's most famous mosques has been destroyed during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo.

According to state news agency Sana, rebels blew up the 11th-century minaret of the Umayyad Mosque, but activists said it was hit by shots from a Syrian army tank.

A Unesco world heritage site, the mosque has been in rebel hands since earlier this year. The area surrounding it is still contested.

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Unesco requested protection of the site last October, which it said was "one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world."

This was the second time in just over a week that a historic Sunni mosque was seriously damaged in Syria.

Other parts of the mosque complex have also received extensive damage because of gunfire and shells during many months of fighting.

Some ancient artifacts have also been looted, including a box that is said to contain a strand of the Prophet Muhammad's hair. But rebels have said they saved ancient handwritten Koranic manuscripts and hidden them.

More fighting occurred elsewhere in Syria on Wednesday, including in a town east of Damascus considered important because of its strategic location and use as a way station for weapons and food.