DAMASCUS: Several historic buildings, including a colonial-era structure, have been blown up in Syria’s second city of Aleppo, where fighting has wrought massive destruction, reports said Wednesday.Rebel fighters destroyed “several old buildings Tuesday night by placing explosives in a tunnel leading under the Old City of Aleppo,” state television said.
“The tunnel extended from the Mamlouk Yalbugha hammam to the old governorate headquarters in the Old City of Aleppo and a number of old buildings were destroyed,” the television reported.
The television footage broadcast by the station showed rubble from several destroyed buildings strewn on the ground near to the city’s famed citadel.
State television said “terrorists were trying to erase the archeological remains of Aleppo.”
An AFP photographer in the city said the blast leveled most of a colonial-era building dating back to the 1930s that was once used by the city’s police leadership.
The blast that caused the damage shook the entire city, he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group of activists, also reported the damage but said the regime was responsible.
It said government forces had planted explosive devices “to prevent rebel advances toward the Aleppo citadel,” a strategic point in the north of the city that remains in government hands.
At dawn, they detonated three of them in the historic building that housed the police “to stop rebel brigades from progressing in that area,” Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman said.
“The building was nearly completely destroyed, along with the surrounding buildings.”
Fighting in Aleppo erupted in mid-2012, and the city has been largely divided between rebel control in the east and regime control in the west since then.
The fighting in Aleppo has devastated parts of its famed Old City.
On May 8, rebels detonated explosives in a tunnel under the city’s famed Hotel Carlton, which was being used as a headquarters for government forces.
The blast killed 14, including soldiers and pro-regime militiamen and destroyed the hotel.