Middle East

Syria Crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers has war scars

A Syrian soldier looks towards the Krak des Chevaliers castle near the Lebanese border, 20 March
A Syrian soldier looking at the castle on Thursday

Government troops in Syria have recaptured the historic Crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers from rebels, close to the border with Lebanon.

An officer said the army had killed 93 rebels in fierce fighting in the area on Thursday, while there appeared to be heavy damage to a nearby village.

Journalists allowed to visit the Unesco World Heritage site on Friday found signs of a hasty retreat.

Walls of the hilltop castle showed signs of damage from bombardment.

It is unclear how much of this was caused by the government operation to capture the fort this week, as part of an advance in the Homs region.

The castle, which was in rebel hands for two years and also came under fire last year, is just one of many historic sites in Syria threatened by the three-year civil war.

This is how the castle looked eight years ago when a BBC team visited to make a documentary
The flanks of the castle still look intact today
But the interior of the castle is now strewn with rubble
A photo of the same wall in 2006 shows arches with their pillars intact and a yard free of debris
Fallen pillars and what appears to be fire damage can be seen here
Damage to modern buildings close to the castle attests to the ferocity of the fighting

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