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Syrian castle among quake-hit ancient sites at risk

March 14, 2023

AL-HAFFAH, Syria: Zuhair Hassoun examines worrying cracks in a Crusader-era castle in Syria, a Unesco World Heritage site that survived centuries of conflict only to be badly damaged by last month´s deadly earthquake.

Hassoun, the custodian of the Fortress of Saladin, an architectural treasure with Byzantine roots in the 10th century rebuilt by Frankish Crusaders in the 12th century, walked carefully past fissured walls and crumbling arches.

“All of the fortress´s towers are in danger,” Hassoun said, warning that one had already fallen after the quake. Other parts “will inevitably collapse”, he said, adding that it was only “a question of time”.

The hilltop fortress surrounded by forest was among dozens of cultural heritage sites that officials say were damaged in the devastating 7.8-magnitude quake that hit Turkey and Syria on February 6.