Syrians clash around 12th century Aleppo mosque

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Syrians clash around 12th-century mosque in Aleppo’s Old City

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels clashed with regime troops in the narrow alleyways around a historic 12th century mosque inside the walled Old City of Aleppo today.

The rebels have made a number of strategic gains in northern Syria in recent weeks, including the capture of a hydroelectric dam and some military bases. They also have been regularly hitting the heart of Damascus with mortar rounds, puncturing the aura of normalcy that the regime has tried to cultivate in the capital.

In Aleppo, a key battleground in the civil war, clashes raged around the landmark Umayyad Mosque in the walled Old City, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The rebels control one part of the mosque, and government troops hold the other.

Rebels launched an offensive on Aleppo, Syria’s largest urban center and its commercial capital, in July 2012. Since then, the city has been carved into rebel- and government-controlled zones in brutal street fighting that has destroyed entire neighborhoods and damaged some of the ancient city’s rich archaeological and cultural heritage.

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