The 11th-century minaret of a famed mosque that towered over the narrow stone alleyways of Aleppo’s old quarter collapsed Wednesday as rebels and government troops fought pitched battles in the streets around it, depriving the ancient Syrian city of one of its most important landmarks.
President Bashar Assad’s government and the rebels trying to overthrow him traded blame over the destruction to the Umayyad Mosque, a UNESCO world heritage site and centerpiece of Aleppo’s walled Old City.
This was one of the most important surviving sites of the Middle Ages and particularly of the Middle East. It was a historic edifice at the center of one of the greatest Islamic empires in history. People are quoted saying this is comparable in terms of world heritage to blowing up the Taj Mahal or finishing off the Parthenon.
This makes it the fifth (out of six total) UNESCO sites in Syria destroyed or severely damaged during the civil war. The famous Crac des Chevaliers crusader castle has been looted.