25 Apr 2013

Umayyad Mosque minaret destroyed

6:15 am on 25 April 2013

The minaret of one of Syria's most famous mosques has been destroyed during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo.

The Sana news agency accuses rebels of blowing up the 11th Century minaret of the Umayyad Mosque.

However, activists say the minaret was hit by Syrian army tank fire.

The BBC reports other parts of the mosque complex, which dates mostly from the 12th Century, have been badly damaged by gunfire and shell hits.

The mosque, which is a United Nation's world heritage site, has been in rebel hands since earlier this year, but the area around it is still contested.

Last October UNESCO appealed for the protection of the site, which it described as "one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world".

The mosque had to be rebuilt after being damaged by a fire in 1159, and again following the Mongol invasion in 1260.

Its oldest surviving part was the minaret, which dated back to 1090.