Photo: MCT
Syrian soldier in Palmyra
Photo: MCT

Syrian military, allies takes control of Palmyra

The Assad regime has taken full control of the city of Tadmur and the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS, which held the city since May 2015, bringing Assad closer to reclaiming the eastern Syrian desert and Deir Ezzour.

BEIRUT - Syrian government forces recaptured Palmyra, state media and a monitoring group said on Sunday, inflicting a significant defeat on the Islamic State group which seized the city last year and destroyed its ancient temples.



However, a Syrian AFP reporter is saying that it is still impossible to go inside the ancient city of Palmyra, as ISIS has rigged the entire city with explosives.


Syrian television quoted a military source as saying the army and its militia allies took complete control of the city and were clearing mines and bombs laid by the militants.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there was still gunfire in the eastern part of the city on Sunday morning but the bulk of the Islamic State force had pulled out and retreated east, leaving Palmyra under President Bashar Assad's control.


Syrian army troops in Palmyra (Photo: EPA)
Syrian army troops in Palmyra (Photo: EPA)


For government forces, the recapture of Palmyra opens up much of Syria's eastern desert stretching to the Iraqi border to the south and Islamic State heartland of Deir al-Zor and Raqqa to the east.


The Observatory said around 180 government soldiers and allied fighters and 400 ISIS fighters were killed in the campaign to retake Palmyra, which is home to some of the most extensive ruins of the Roman empire.  


Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman described this as the biggest single defeat for the group since it declared a caliphate in areas of Syria and Iraq under its control in 2014.


Syrian army troops in Palmyra (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Syrian army troops in Palmyra (Photo: AP)


It follows a three-week campaign by the Syrian army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies on the ground, backed by intensive Russian air strikes, aimed at driving Islamic State back.


Russia's intervention in September turned the tide of Syria's five-year-old conflict in Assad's favor. Despite its announcement that it was pulling out most military forces two weeks ago, Russian jets and helicopters carried out dozens of strikes daily over Palmyra at the height of the clashes.


Palmyra (Photo: AP)
Palmyra (Photo: AP)


The loss of Palmyra comes three months after Islamic State fighters were driven out of the city of Ramadi in neighboring Iraq, the first major victory for Iraq's army since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the militants in June 2014.


Islamic State has lost ground elsewhere, including the Iraqi city of Tikrit last year and the Syrian town of al-Shadadi in February. The United States said the fall of Shadadi was part of efforts to cut Islamic State's links between its two main power centres: the cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.


Syrian army troops in Palmyra (Photo: AFP)
Syrian army troops in Palmyra (Photo: AFP)



פרסום ראשון: 03.27.16, 14:29
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