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Syrian Army Announces Re-Capture of Palmyra

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces take up positions during fighting between Government forces and Islamic State group militants in the ancient city of Palmyra, near Homs, Syria, Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Syrian military said Thursday that it had re-captured the town of Palmyra from Islamic State militants for the second time in a year.

A statement from the army said the government is in control of the whole city. The government was able to take control of the city with the help of Russian air support, the statement said.

The IS fighters began leaving the city on Sunday, and by Tuesday government troops reached the outskirts of Palmyra.

Earlier Thursday, a Kremlin spokesman said President Vladimir Putin was made aware of the army’s success by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to Russian media. No details about the extent to which Russian air support aided the Syrian army were given.

Palmyra’s recapture marks the second time control of the city has changed hands over the past year. The Syrian government seized the city from IS fighters last March only to lose it again in December.

Prior to the 2011 outbreak of civil war in Syria, the city was a popular tourist destination, annually drawing tens of thousands of visitors to its beaches.