First Published: 2013-07-13

 

Latest victim of Syria air strikes: Famed Krak des Chevaliers castle

 

Raids come after rebels apparently using Krak des Chevaliers as base attacked Alawite village called Qumayri, killing several people.

 

Middle East Online

Caught in crossfire

BEIRUT - An air raid on Syria's famed Krak des Chevaliers castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has damaged one of the fortress's towers, footage shot by activists showed Saturday.

Several videos posted online showed at least one air strike on Friday against the castle in central Homs province, where fighting is raging between government troops and rebel forces.

The footage shows a huge blast as a tower of the Crusader castle, which is built on a hill, appears to take a direct hit, throwing up large clouds of smoke and scattering debris in the air.

A separate video filmed inside the fortress purports to show some of the damage caused by the air strike, including a gaping hole in the ceiling and a pile of rubble below.

"God is great. This is the destruction caused by MiG air strike on the Krak des Chevaliers," says the activist filming the damage.

"Look at this, oh world. This is Bashar al-Assad bombing the Krak des Chevaliers," he adds of Syria's embattled president whom rebel forces are trying to topple.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog group, could not confirm direct hits on the castle, but said there were reports of three air strikes in the area on Friday.

The raids came after rebels apparently using the Krak des Chevaliers as a base attacked an Alawite village called Qumayri, killing several people, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Fighting in and around the fortress has been reported throughout the conflict, which began with anti-government protests in March 2011 and evolved into an armed uprising after crackdowns on demonstrations.

The Krak des Chevaliers was built between 1142 and 1271, according to UNESCO, and along with the adjoining Qalat Salah el-Din fortress, is considered one of the best preserved Crusader castles in existence.

It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2006, and is one of six sites in Syria designated as such.

In 2013, UNESCO decided to add all six of Syria's World Heritage sites to its World Heritage in Danger list, reflecting concerns that serious damage was being inflicted on the areas as the country's conflict continues.

The other sites include the Old Cities of Damascus and Aleppo and the ruins at ancient Palmyra.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground.

 

Iraq operation to liberate Anbar faces barrage of criticism

Yemen shelling kills two Saudi border guards

Nusra Front chief pledges no attacks on West

Kerry set to launch final diplomatic push for Iran nuclear talks

Arrest of several FIFA leaders as part of twin corruption inquiry

Blair resignation widely welcomed by Palestinians

Qatar pledges $50 mn to Indonesia for sheltering Rohingya migrants

Al-Jazeera interview with Nusra leader draws criticism

Palestinians 'open' to every scenario on FIFA vote on Israel

Iran defends spy trial of US journalist

Iraq exhumed remains of 470 bodies from Tikrit mass graves

Coalition raids target headquarters of rebel troops in Yemen capital

EU calls for resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks

Fast pace of executions in Saudi Arabia 'very disturbing'

Tunisia begins hearings into ex-regime's rights abuses

‘Islamic State’ executes 20 men in ruins of Syria ancient city

Saudi Arabia announces sanctions against two Hezbollah leaders

Libya to fight aggression with 'strength'

Iran says nuclear talks could go beyond deadline

Hamas accused of committing war crimes against civilians

German court rejects Yemenis' case over US drone killings

Kuwait emir urges Muslim states to fight extremism

NY Times journalist has Turkish citizenship revoked

Military site inspections necessary to Iran deal

Iraqi forces on outskirts of Ramadi

Syrian refugees ignored at Turkey poll campaign

Director 'shocked' at Morocco’s prostitution film ban

Libya PM survives assassination attempt

US criticises Shiite name of Iraqi military operation

Israel warplanes strike Gaza after rocket attack

Pro-government fighters retake Yemen city from Shiite rebels

Libya militias trap civilians in Benghazi

EU border agency plans to expand migrant rescue operation

Syria state TV blames ‘foreign enemies’ for signal jamming

Palestinians and jihadists clash in Yarmouk

Iraq refugees forced back into conflict zones

Kuwait restores Islamist lawmaker's citizenship

Washington Post reporter goes on trial behind closed doors in Iran

Iraq launches operation to drive ‘Islamic State’ from Anbar

New airport in restive eastern Turkey

Iran ‘thwarts’ US cyber attack on Oil Ministry’

Egypt opens border crossing with Gaza for 48 hours

Litany of problems keep Iraqi army weak and ineffective

Rouhani: most Iranians favour peace

Iran Foreign Minister discusses Yemen conflict in neutral Oman