The destruction of Aleppo, Syria. A Unesco world heritage site
A fire rages at a medieval souk in Aleppo, Syria, in an image taken from Shaam News Network video. Photograph: Anonymous/AP
Picture downloaded from hindu.com
A huge fire has destroyed parts of the medieval souks in Aleppo, Syria, following raging battles between rebels and government troops.
The city is a Unesco world heritage site and the labyrinth of narrow alleys and shops was once a major tourist attraction and is one of Syria's largest commercial hubs.
Over the past two months, the city, home to 2.5 million people, has become a focus of the insurgency against Bashar al-Assad's regime, with near daily fighting and shelling.
Activists posted online videos which showed the fire around wooden doors and shops and a pall of smoke hanging over the city on Saturday.
Ahmad al-Halabi, an activist based in Aleppo, said residents were struggling to control the blaze with a limited number of fire extinguishers and low water supply: "It's a disaster. The fire is threatening to spread to remaining shops," he said. "It is a very difficult and tragic situation there."
The souks of Aleppo, a maze of vaulted passageways with shops that sell everything from foods to fabrics, perfumes, spices and artisan souvenirs, are a tactical prize for the combatants. They lie beneath the city's towering citadel where activists say regime troops and snipers have taken up positions.
Many of the shops have wooden doors, and clothes, fabrics and leather wares inside helped spread the fire, activists said.
Rebels and government troops have roughly controlled half of the city each since the offensive began in August.