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Historic Damascus synagogue looted and burned
By JTA
01/04/2013
Rebels, Assad forces trade blame for destruction of ancient synagogue built atop a cave used by prophet Elijah.
 
The 2,000-year-old Jobar Synagogue in the Syrian capital of Damascus was looted and burned to the ground.

The Syrian army loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebel forces are blaming each other for the destruction of the historic synagogue, according to reports on Sunday.

The rebels said the Syrian government looted the synagogue before burning it to the ground, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

The government said the rebels burned the synagogue and that so-called Zionist agents stole its historic religious items in an operation that had been planned for several weeks, the Arabic Al-Manar Television reported, citing the Arabic Syria Truth website.

The synagogue, one of the oldest in the world, was damaged earlier this month by mortars reportedly fired by Syrian government forces. A video posted online by the Syrian opposition shows extensive damage done to the outside of the synagogue



The Jobar synagogue was built atop a cave that, according to tradition, was used by the prophet Elijah to conceal himself from prosecution. The synagogue is said to have been built by Elijah's successor, the prophet Elisha, and repaired during the first century by Eleazar ben Arach.

Six World Heritage sites in Syria were damaged by the Syrian civil war from shelling and open fire between regime forces and rebel fighters. The fighting left historic buildings, archaeological sites and residential areas in ruins.

JPost.com staff contributed to this report.
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