Syria Army Retakes Palmyra

Syrian fighters take position as they advance to retake Palmyra on March 2.Syrian fighters take position as they advance to retake Palmyra on March 2.

The Syrian Army has recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from IS for the second time in a year with help from allied forces and Russian warplanes.

The self-styled Islamic State seized Palmyra in a surprise advance in December after having been driven out eight months before, Aljazeera reported.

“With backing from the Syrian and Russian air forces, units of our armed forces recaptured the city of Palmyra, in cooperation with the allies,” the military said in a statement.

The army advanced inside Palmyra on Thursday as IS withdrew completely, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said.

IS retreated to areas in the east, the Syrian Observatory reported. Government forces took control of swathes of Palmyra and conducted combing operations to clear landmines, it said.

During IS’s first occupation, which ended in March last year, the armed group destroyed some of Palmyra’s priceless archeological heritage. It is believed to have razed other parts of the historical ruins after regaining control in December.

The Syrian Army is also fighting IS east of Aleppo city, where it is pushing to reach the Euphrates River, and in the city of Deir al-Zor, where it controls an enclave besieged by fighters.

IS is on the back foot in Syria after losing territory in the north to an alliance of US-backed Kurdish-led militias and to Turkey-backed Syrian militants.

Government and opposition delegations are attending UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva where the government’s chief negotiator hailed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for keeping his promise to retake Palmyra.


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