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The shell-beaten minarets of Aleppo's Old City

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:32s - Published < > Embed
The shell-beaten minarets of Aleppo's Old City

The shell-beaten minarets of Aleppo's Old City

The sorry state of Aleppo's Old City, a labyrinthine World Heritage Site and a battlefield from 2012-16, is obvious from a glance across the skyline at its shell-beaten minarets.

Sarah Charlton reports.

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The shell-beaten minarets of Aleppo's Old City

Sad and shell-beaten… This is just one of the broken minarets that punctuate the skyline of Aleppo's Old City, a World Heritage Site that was battered by bombs for years.

Reuters Angus McDowall is there.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS ANGUS MCDOWALL SAYING: ''I'm standing on top of the great souk of Aleppo.

This is a restored part of the roof.

And of course this whole area around me has been the subject of a great deal of work.

But it is just one stretch.

It's about 100m long and it's been beautifully put back together.

But Aleppo has 13km of souk and the extent of damage in some places is just unbelievable.

The engineer working here says about 30% of the souks, as far as he's seen, look pretty much destroyed, and that gives you an idea of how much more work will be needed to get that whole area back to the kind of pristine condition that this stretch now is.'' Restoration work in Syria is controversial.

With the exception of Islamic State, which deliberately targeted ancient ruins, all sides in the war have portrayed themselves as guardians of historical sites and their enemies as vandals.

Western countries, that have imposed sanctions on Assad's government, oppose any reconstruction work until there is a political solution to the conflict.

They argue it would reward him for war crimes they say he has committed but which he denies.

And that has cut off most funding from the nations that are normally top donors for cultural work.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS ANGUS MCDOWALL SAYING: ''If you look around you can see so many other historic mosques which are in very poor shape - there's one right here - the minaret had a terrible huge gash down the side from the shelling.

And there are many others if you look around the city that are in very poor condition and if there is not work on them then there is a danger of collapse.

Now whether there can be funds to restore these is the big question because at the moment there is only the money to work on a few parts of this old city.'' A few of the most famous monuments are slowly recovering.

At the Umayyad Mosque, bullet-scarred walls are being refaced and minaret is ready to be rebuilt.

But progress is slow.

In December, the U.N.

Cultural agency UNESCO said 10 percent of Aleppo's historic buildings were destroyed.

More than half the buildings they assessed showed severe to moderate damage.




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