Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ancient Syrian souk, a UNESCO world heritage site, burns as fighting rages in Aleppo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of shops were burning in the ancient covered market in Aleppo on Saturday as fighting between rebels and state forces in Syria's largest city threatened to destroy a UNESCO world heritage site.

The uprising-turned-civil war that is now raging across Syria has killed more than 30,000 people, according to activist groups such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [...]

Aleppo's Old City is one of several locations in Syria declared world heritage sites by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, that are now at risk from the fighting.

UNESCO believes five of Syria's six heritage sites - which also include the ancient desert city of Palmyra, the Crac des Chevaliers crusader fortress and parts of old Damascus - have been affected.

The British-based Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists across Syria, said Assad's forces and rebels blamed each other for the blaze.