The minaret of a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was destroyed yesterday, leaving the once-soaring stone tower a pile of rubble and twisted metal scattered in the tiled courtyard.
President Bashar Assad’s regime is being blamed for the destruction to the Umayyad Mosque, which occurred in the heart Aleppo’s walled Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was the second time in just over a week that a historic Sunni mosque in Syria has been seriously damaged.
An amateur video posted online by the Aleppo Media Center activist group showed the mosque’s archways, charred from earlier fighting, and a pile of rubble where the minaret used to be.
Standing inside the mosque’s courtyard, a man says regime forces recently fired seven shells at the minaret but failed to knock it down.
According to The Associated Press, he said the tank rounds struck their target yesterday. “We were standing here today and suddenly shells started hitting the minaret,” the man says. “They (the army) then tried to storm the mosque but we pushed them back.”
Five of Syria’s six World Heritage sites have been damaged in the fighting, according to UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency.