The Great Mosque of Aleppo, a centuries-old treasure at the heart of one of the world's oldest cities, is today a grim testament to the ravages of Syria's war.
The doors have been blasted away, the walls have been shredded by gunfire and shrapnel, and the minaret where the Muslim call to prayer sounded for 900 years has been toppled and shattered. The wooden pulpit, along with ancient manuscripts from a nearby library, has been carted off by looters.
Syrians are only now able to survey the damage wrought by more than four years of war. The opposition fighters surrendered last month after a massive Bashar al-Assad offensive and were evacuated to other areas, allowing Assad to regain control of the country's largest city.
Also known as the Umayyad Mosque, the site was reopened in 2006 after a 20-year renovation project. Aleppo's Old City, a UNESCO world heritage site, also boasts a 13th century citadel, a sprawling bazaar and several other monuments, nearly all of which have been damaged or destroyed.
Khaled al-Masri, director of museums and antiquities in Aleppo, downplayed the extent of the destruction, saying the mosque could be repaired within a year and the minaret could be rebuilt in three. "The damage is simple and we can return the Umayyad Mosque to how it was," he said.
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