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A picture taken on February 24, 2018 shows a view of the walls of the ancient city of Zabid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site currently on the list of World Heritage in danger, in Yemen’s western Hodeidah province. Once Yemen’s capital and famed as an architectural marvel of early Islam, the town of Zabid is fighting to survive as a brutal war closes in on its fortified walls. / AFP PHOTO / ABDO HYDER (Photo credit should read ABDO HYDER/AFP/Getty Images)

Zabid, Al Hudaydah, Yemen is one of the oldest cities in Yemen. It was founded in 819 or 820 by Muhammad ibn Ziyad.

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ZABID, YEMEN: Yemen girls dance during the Yemeni Traditional Sports Festival 28 May 2004 in the city of Zabid, 200km southwest of the capital Sanaa. The formerly informal event was organized by the government this year for the first time and will now be held yearly in Zabid. AFP PHOTO/Khaled FAZAA (Photo credit should read KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images)

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ZABID, YEMEN: A general view of the historical Yemeni city of Zabid on the Red Sea, 325 kms west of the captial Sanaa in the Hodeidah province, 16 January 2004. Zabid is one of four Yemeni cities (including Sanaaa, Shibam Hadramut) declared by UNESCO in the early 1980s as World Heritage cities. AFP PHOTO/KHALED FAZAA (Photo credit should read KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images)

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YEMEN – MAY 17: Mosque in Zabid, Yemen on May 17, 2005. (Photo by Eric LAFFORGUE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Video report from Al Jazeera:

Zabid’s fortified walls and minarets have stood for more than a thousand years, but the war during the last 3 years has left its mark. And there’s concern continued fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels could damage the town’s archaeological sites beyond repair.

Al Mohammed Makred (Conservationist): “Some of the bombing around the city Zabid and inside the city of Zabid resulted in damage of some building ceilings and wall cracks. And we as a public body to preserve the historic cities cannot do anything.”

Zabid was Yemen’s capital between the 13th and 15th centuries. It sits south of today’s capital Sana’a in an area largely controlled by Houthi rebels. It’s also close to the main highway linking the port of Hodeidah and the city of Taiz, a crucial supply line where there’s been some of the heaviest shelling.

The town’s heritage was already under threat before the war began in 2014. The UN’s cultural agency had placed Zabid on a danger list almost 20 years ago. More than a third of its ancient buildings had been replaced by ones made of concrete and recent bombing has only made things worse.

Saleh Ali Maqbool (Zabid Resident): “The bombing of Shichiya (???) restaurant affected our houses. They cracked and some walls lent because of the shelling.”

When Zabid was Yemen’s capital 700 years ago, the town’s Islamic university was known as the Oxford of the East, a reference to one of the world’s famous universities in the UK. Those glory days are gone, but conservationists don’t want what’s left of the ancient city to disappear completely.

Barbara Angopa, Al Jazeera.