Aleppo Citadel. File photo
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An explosion Sunday in a tunnel near Aleppo Citadel in Syria damaged a wall of the fortress that is part of the UNESCO-listed Old City, state media and a monitor group reported.
The blast partly destroyed the wall of the monumental 13th century citadel overlooking the Old City, said the official SANA news agency and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“A powerful explosion was heard after midnight Saturday. It was caused by the blowing up of a tunnel in the Old City near the Aleppo Citadel,” the Observatory said.
“The blast caused the collapse of part of the wall of the citadel,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The Observatory said rebels dug the tunnel “but it was the regime which blew it up to prevent them from reaching an army position.”
Abdel Rahman said the explosion was followed by clashes between rebels and government forces who are battling for control of the northern city.
SANA said “terrorists” blew up the tunnel, damaging the historic citadel.
The Syrian government and its media describe as “terrorists” the various armed groups who have been battling to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime since 2011.
Government forces are deployed in parts of the Old City as well as inside the citadel.
The rebels launched a major offensive in the first week of July to try to take territory on the western outskirts of the city.
The Aleppo Citadel, which contains the remains of mosques, a palace and bath buildings, is one of several sites in Syria on UNESCO’s world heritage list.