The Syrian Army together with the Desert Falcons and Russian air-power has driven Islamic State (Isis) occupation troops from Palmyra. It’s the biggest defeat on the death cult since the terrorists were removed from the Kurdish town of Kobane.
Palmyra’s liberation, at the culmination of a three-week advance, was spearheaded by the Syrian army and paramilitary groups, backed by concentrated Russian air strikes.
Its jets carried out more than 40 combat sorties in just 24 hours from Friday to Saturday, targeting 158 Isis positions, according to the Russian defence ministry.
“After heavy fighting during the night, the army is in full control of Palmyra — both the ancient site and the residential neighbourhoods,” a Damascus military source announced.
“Army sappers are in the process of defusing dozens of bombs and mines planted inside the ancient site.”
General Ali Mayhoub declared on state TV that the government victory at Palmyra “directs a fatal blow to Isis, undermines the morale of its mercenaries and ushers in the start of its defeat and retreat.”
He added that it lays the basis for further advances toward Raqqa, the extremist group’s de facto capital, and the fiercely contested eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
According to Sputnik Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation on Sunday with Syrian President Bashar Assad to congratulate him on the liberation of the historic city from the terrorists quoting Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Mr Peskov said
“In a conversation with the Syrian president, Vladimir Putin congratulated his counterpart on the liberation of Palmyra from terrorists by the Syrian military and noted the importance of preservation of this unique historic city for the world culture.”
Palmyra has been an important juncture on an Isis supply line connecting its territory in central and northern Syria to Anbar province in Iraq.
After occupying Palmyra last May, Isis demolished some of the most famous monuments at the nearby Unesco world heritage site, which once attracted tens of thousands of tourists every year.
The barbaric death cult blew up two of the site’s treasured classical temples, its triumphal arch and a dozen tower tombs.
It used Palmyra’s ancient amphitheatre as a venue for public executions, including the beheading of the city’s 82-year-old former antiquities head.
Syrian Culture Minister Issam Khalil hailed the return of Palmyra as a “victory for humanity and right over all projects of darkness.”
Museums and antiquities department director Maamoun Abdulkarim said that Palmyra’s Great Colonnade had suffered only minor damage.
“We will rebuild what you have destroyed,” was his defiant message to Isis. His task may be made easier by the decision of Creative Commons to start an online repository of three-dimensional images published into the public domain to digitally reconstruct Palmyra.