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Sunday
Jul142013

Syrian Airstrike Hits 12th Century Castle

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOMS, Syria) -- Video has emerged of a Syrian airstrike hitting one of Syria’s most famous landmarks, Crac des Chevaliers. Opposition activists released footage showing a direct hit on one of the castle’s towers, followed by a massive blast.

“This is the destruction caused by MiG airstrike on the Crac des Chevaliers,” says one activist filming.

A second video shows severe damage inside the castle, and a third video features the sound of airstrikes overhead.

Built in the 12th century, the crusader castle is one of six UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country, once described by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) as the “best-preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world.” Known in Arabic as Qala’at el Hosn, or the “stronghold castle,” it is strategically located on a hill at the western entrance to Homs, not far from the Lebanese border.

Activists in the area tell ABC News that the castle, which is currently controlled by the opposition, has come under heavy aerial bombardment in recent days as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad battle for Homs.

It’s not the first time Crac des Chevaliers has been hit. In January 2013 activists uploaded footage purporting to be a government attack on the castle:

In July 2012, the Director General of UNESCO appealed for the protection of the castle and Syria’s other heritage sites including the ancient city of Aleppo, Palmyra, the Ancient Villages in Northern Syria and Damascus. Earlier this year, UNESCO added all six sites to its World Heritage in Danger list.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio