PlanetPic: Fighting in Syria damages historic market, ancient ruins

This file photo from August 20, 2011, shows traders, shops and stalls in the area of the medieval souk in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria. The ancient market, recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, was badly damaged by a blaze that started on September 28, 2012, destroying much of the souk as rebel forces clashed with Syrian government troops.

A centuries-old market in Aleppo is the latest casualty of the 18-month civil war that has rocked Syria and left more than 30,000 people dead. Fighting between government and rebel forces caused the fire in Aleppo's souk, and damaged doors, stone stalls and passageways.

Aleppo's souk — comprised of narrow passages lined with thousands of shops — was once a tourist attraction, and the old city of Aleppo is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The conflict has damaged at least a half-dozen well-known Syrian cultural sites.

"The damage to one of the best-preserved old souks in the Middle East was the worst yet to a UNESCO World Heritage site in Syria," the Associated Press reported. "Across the country, looters have broken into a historic castle, stolen artifacts from museums and damaged ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra."

Here are images of the Aleppo souk before and after the violence, the ruins of Palmyra, the old city of Damascus, a damaged church in Homs and a rebel fighting in the Crac des Chevaliers, a crusader castle.

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