A view shows the damage inside the Crac des Chevaliers fortress in Homs countryside, after soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad took control of it from rebel fighters, March 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)
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Columns are blackened with soot and vaults have crumbled in one of the courtyards of Syria's Crac des Chevaliers, a Crusader castle that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and victim of the country's three-year civil war.The army seized the medieval fortress Thursday after fierce fighting in the nearby village of Al-Hosn in central Syria, routing rebels who had captured it in July 2011 .Most of the 11th century fortress and its external walls appear intact but the damage is inside, in the lower courtyard.In July 2011, four months after the Syrian conflict erupted, Sunni villagers from the village of Al-Hosn seized the Crac and were soon joined by allied rebels, including Lebanese fighters.Nearby are the women's quarters, said the colonel, adding that 700 rebels lived in the Crac.The colonel says the army took the rebels by surprise Thursday and seized the Crac after a battle that lasted 12 hours.
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