Kremlin says Syrian forces with Russian air support take Palmyra
The Syrian army backed by Russian jets has completed the recapture of the iconic ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State group, the Kremlin said Thursday.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin of the completion of the operation, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.
A monitoring group following the conflict told AFP that while the jihadists had pulled out of Palmyra Syrian regime forces had yet to move into the entire city.
“IS has fully withdrawn from Palmyra, but the Syrian army is still clearing neighbourhoods of mines and has not spread out into the whole city yet,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The historic oasis city has traded hands several times during the six-year civil war and become a symbol of IS’s wanton destruction of cultural heritage in areas under its control.
The jihadist group first seized Palmyra in May 2015 and began to systematically destroy and loot the UNESCO world heritage site’s monuments and temples. IS fighters were driven out in March 2016 but recaptured the city last December.
Bolstered by Russian air strikes and ground troops, Syrian government forces have been battling through the desert for weeks to reach Palmyra.