The Aleppo souks are not the only Syrian cultural treasures to have fallen victim to the chaos of the country's uprising and the crackdown by the Assad regime.
Some of the country's most significant sites, including centuries-old fortresses, have been caught in the crossfire between regime forces and rebels. Others have been turned into military bases, raising archaeologists' fears of damage.
Regime shelling of neighborhoods where the opposition is holed up has smashed historic mosques, churches and souks in central Homs province and elsewhere the country. Looters have stolen artifacts from excavations and museums.
Rodrigo Martin, an expert in ancient Syrian historical sites, said all six of Syria's UNESCO world heritage sites have suffered varying degrees of damage since the start of the uprising.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory opposition group, said it was not clear how the fire at the Aleppo market was started, that at least 200 shops had burned. The group relies on a wide network of activists on the ground.
The claims could not be independently verified because of limitations on the work of journalists in Syria.
Fighting continued in many parts of Aleppo Saturday and activists said at least three people were killed, including two rebel fighters. Syria's state-run news agency SANA said soldiers were pursuing military operations against armed groups in Aleppo and its outskirts, inflicting heavy losses on the "terrorists," the term used by authorities to refer to rebels.
In the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, activists said the bodies of at least eight men were found who appeared to have been summarily executed, but the circumstances were not immediately clear.
The Syrian uprising began in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests but has since transformed into an insurgency and civil war that has defied all attempts at a diplomatic solution. Activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed.
Al-Halabi, the Aleppo activist, said overall fighting in Aleppo had eased on Saturday compared to the previous two days, although shelling and clashes continued in several locations.
"Both sides seem to be trying to catch their breath after the intensity of the past two days," he said.