News / Middle East

    Syrian Forces Recapture Palmyra From Islamic State

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian soldiers gather around a Syrian national flag in Palmyra, Syria, March 27, 2016.
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian soldiers gather around a Syrian national flag in Palmyra, Syria, March 27, 2016.
    VOA News

    Syrian government forces backed by Russian airstrikes have retaken the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State, according to activists and state media, dealing a crucial symbolic and strategic defeat to the militants.

    "This is an important achievement, and fresh proof of the efficiency of the Syrian army and its allies in fighting terrorism," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said during a meeting with a French parliament delegation in Damascus.

    The Syrian armed forces said Sunday the takeover of Palmyra represents a "fatal" blow to the militants, who seized the city 10 months ago and destroyed many of the famed monuments that had stood for nearly 2,000 years.

    The fighting in Palmyra had intensified in recent days as Syrian forces pushed to close their three-week offensive.

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian soldier holds a Syrian national flag in front of the Palmyra citadel, March 27, 2016.
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian soldier holds a Syrian national flag in front of the Palmyra citadel, March 27, 2016.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict, said the remaining Islamic State fighters retreated to the east toward Deir Ezzor.  The militants control a solid string of territory extending north from Deir Ezzor through their de facto capital in Raqqa to the Turkish border, and also to the south into Iraq.

    By seizing Palmyra, the Syrian government opened up the 100 kilometers of desert between there and Deir Ezzor.

    The Syrian army said it will now use Palmyra as a "central base to broaden operations" against Islamic State in several areas, including Deir Ezzor and Raqqa.

    Syrian troops on Sunday continued to dismantle booby traps and other explosives left by the IS fighters, according to activists and state media.

    The Observatory said 400 Islamic State militants and 180 government troops and allied fighters died in the battle for Palmyra, adding that clashes continued Sunday in some parts of the city.

    Palmyra, coined as the “bride of the desert,” is a UNESCO world heritage site that used to attract tens of thousands of tourists every year.

    Islamic State took the city from government forces in a matter of days in May 2015 and later demolished several Roman-era monuments as part of their pattern of destroying what they consider idolatrous worship.

    The takeover of Palmyra is the latest in a series of setbacks for Islamic State. Iraq's army three months ago drove the extremist group out of the city Ramadi in neighboring Iraq. The Iraqi army also announced this week the start of a major offensive to retake the city of Mosul.

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    Comments
         
    by: KoreyD from: Canada
    March 27, 2016 1:08 PM
    Syria, Russia, Iran, the Kurds and Hezbollah are fighting the terrorists that have been spawned by America's illegal invasions, regime changes and occupations in the Middle East. Europe should thank these fighters rather than using it's media to vilify these on the ground combatants as they have done the past 5 years. There are no Western troops on the ground and America has the Atlantic to keep them safe. It is middle eastern military and Russia that are making the difference and cleaning up a mess largely created by the U.S.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    March 27, 2016 9:57 PM
    Admit it or not, the terrorist attacks in Europe represent the stupid and irresponsible policy of the US and Western nations when they decided to back suni islamic extremists to overthrow the legal secular government of Assad. They have labeled those bloodthirsty terrorists as freedom fighters for democracy. Their allies such as Saudi Arabia, Quatar, Turkey are notorious for human right violations and massacring of the innocent. They think with the help of such dictatorship nations and those extremists they can build a western style democracy in Syria, Lybia, Iraq, Afganistan...But all have failed and now the Europe are paying high prices for their stupid policy.
    It is high time for European leaders to stop supporting terrorists disguided as fighters for democracy or the so-called Western backed rebels in Syria. Assad & his people never poses a single threat to you so far.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 27, 2016 4:22 PM
    Remember that US special forces killed an important number two man of the ISIL before the Syrian army and it's allies defeated the Sunni Muslim ISIL Caliphate army in Palmyra, [and remember], the US anti-terrorist plan is to slowly degrade and eventually defeat the terrorists at some unknown unspecified time in history?

    Remember that the ISIL Caliphate army were (Syrian free fighters and rebels) until they beheaded three Americans and some Europeans beginning in August of 2014 until this present day? .. The US and NATO have 15 years (and a thousand excuses) for not defeating the terrorists in the world? .. The US goal in Syria, was to defeat the Syrian army [not] the Sunni Muslim terrorist/rebel fighters that were trying to defeat the Syrian army too? .. Give the US credit for all those number two terrorists the US said they killed? .. and give the Russians credit for ending the war in Syria?

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 27, 2016 10:47 AM
    The ultimate total demise of IS is now taking place. They are losing on every front. Libya may also require assistance in rebuilding a normal life. There are other muslim terrorist hotspots that will require watching, boko haram, al-shebab, and taliban.

    by: Solaris
    March 27, 2016 9:40 AM
    Please accept my sincere condolences.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 27, 2016 7:33 AM
    What a difference it makes, when the Syrians have allies like Russia and Iran helping them (with a plan that works), that brought Syria from almost certain defeat at the hands of the terrorist/rebels to almost certain victory now? .. It's a Syrian army and allies blitzkrieg against the terrorist/rebels that's becoming an unstoppable juggernaut? .. The Syrian war is over, but the Syrian army with their allies must drive the remaining terrorist/rebels and their supporters (that keep arming and supplying them) from Syria?

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