BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian activists say rebels have been battling government troops near a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, while fierce clashes have been raging around a police academy west of the city.
The historic structure (the Umayyad Mosque) known as the Great Mosque of Aleppo is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It sits near a medieval covered market in the walled Old City. Both were burned during clashes last October, and today's fight threatened to do further damage.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports heavy gunfire and explosions near the mosque. Syria's state news agency said "terrorists" had detonated explosives near the building's south wall, causing "material damages."
Government forces and rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad have been battling over Aleppo since July. While rebels have gradually expanded their control over the city, seven months of street fighting, airstrikes and shelling have left much of Aleppo in ruins.