Despite protests from the US State Department, the Syrian army, backed by Russian air support, has liberated Palmyra from ISIS.
The Syrian army initially took control of Palmyra’s ancient ruins. After heavy fighting during the night, government forces were able to push ISIS out of the residential quarters.
Russian airstrikes played a critical role in the campaign to liberate Palmyra. During the final push to retake the city, Russian warplanes killed more than 100 ISIS fighters.
With the fall of Palmyra, ISIS’ “capital” of Raqqa is now more exposed than ever:
Palmyra is strategically important because its situated in a desert that stretches to the Iraqi borders to the east, and ISIS’ de facto capital of Ar-Raqqah to the north.
Located in the central city of Homs, the ancient city is located 210 km away from the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The fall of Palmyra will most likely pave the way for the Syrian Army to advance towards the terrorist group’s stronghold in Ar-Raqqah as well as the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor.
Although it’s still unclear how many ISIS fighters died while attempting to defend the city, sources embedded with the Syrian army report that “hundreds of jihadis have been killed, along with a large number of vehicles and heavy weapons destroyed”.
But the Syrian army paid a heavy price for its victory. Unconfirmed reports state that as many as 110 Syrian soldiers perished in the fighting.
Now that the Palmyra has been liberated, the Syrian government has vowed to restore the city’s ancient ruins:
On Saturday, the Syrian government’s head of antiquities, Mamoun Abdelkarim, said the authorities would try to restore the historic sites.
“We will rebuild them with the stones that remain, and with the remaining columns,” Abdelkarim told Reuters, adding that his team would “bring life back to Palmyra.”
A bad day for the US State Department.