A member of regime forces stands in front of the historic citadel in Aleppo’s Bab al-Hadid neighborhood.
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Once renowned for its bustling souks, grand citadel and historic gates, Aleppo's Old City has been rendered virtually unrecognizable by some of the worst violence of Syria's war. For centuries, Aleppo was Syria's economic and cultural powerhouse, attracting tourists from around the world to its celebrated heritage sites.Al-Hatab was one of the oldest squares in the city, but it now lay dotted with sand barricades and the charred remnants of overturned buses.The Old City became one of Aleppo's bloodiest front lines after rebel groups overran the eastern half of the city in mid-2012, a year after the conflict began with anti-government protests.Fighting destroyed the 11th century minaret of Aleppo's famed Umayyad mosque and heavily damaged the old Crusader citadel.Aleppo's covered market – the largest in the world – served for centuries as a gathering place for artisans and traders.The war also ravaged the touristic area around Aleppo's famed citadel, including the Al-Sultaniyah Mosque and the imposing white-stoned Grand Serail.
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