Aleppo, Syria, minaret, built in 1090, destroyed by tank fire

April 24, 2013 at 9:02 PM
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ALEPPO, Syria, April 24 (UPI) -- An iconic minaret in Aleppo, Syria, built in the 11th century, was destroyed by government tank fire, opposition activists said Wednesday.

Video posted by the Aleppo Media Center showed a pile of rubble in the corner of the Great Ummayad Mosque where the minaret stood. The mosque dates back to 715, and the minaret, at 45 meters (148 feet), was built in 1090, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

Although the mosque fell into rebel hands last week, Syrian state media claimed the minaret was blown up by Jabhat al-Nusra, a group connected with al-Qaida and fighting alongside the rebels.

The Syrian media did not explain why a militant Sunni group would destroy a historic Sunni mosque, the newspaper observed.

European Union anti-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove said about 500 Europeans have joined forces in opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Intelligence agencies say they were concerned European fighters in Syria could join groups linked to al-Qaida and return to Europe to conduct attacks, the BBC said.

"Not all of them are radical when they leave but most likely many of them will be radicalized there, will be trained," de Kerchove said. "And as we've seen this might lead to a serious threat when they get back."

British and Belgian authorities are investigating how people are being recruited to join Syrian rebels, the BBC reported. Officials in the Netherlands have raised the terror threat level to "substantial" over concerns of potentially radicalized citizens returning from Syria.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said it documented 104 deaths due to violence in Syria Wednesday, including 11 children, eight women , five people who were tortured to death and 32 people described as armed rebels.

Twenty-two were killed in Aleppo, 18 in and around Damascus, 18 in Homs, 17 in Hama, 11 in Idlib and nine in Daraa.

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