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Thursday
Apr252013

Ancient Mosque's Minaret Destroyed in Syria

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- A historic mosque that has been under siege for months in the Syrian city of Aleppo is now in ruins after explosions knocked down its minaret on Wednesday.

Pointing fingers once more, government forces and opposition fighters blamed each other for severely damaging the Umayyad Mosque that dates back to the 12th century.

According to Syria's state media, the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front was responsible for toppling the minaret by detonating bombs inside it.  The group is fighting for President Bashar al-Assad's removal, although the Free Syrian Army says it doesn't condone the Nusra Front's actions.

Rebel groups fighting al-Assad's forces contend it was the government's artillery that led to the mosque's near destruction.

The Syrian military first occupied the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo until it retreated earlier this year, leaving rebel fighters to use it as a base.

UNESCO World Heritage, which oversees historic landmarks, has been pleading with both sides to spare mosques and other sites of antiquity in Syria.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio