Kremlin says Syrian forces, with air support, take Palmyra

2017-03-02 19:48
Syrian regime fighters take up positions as they advance to retake the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS. (AFP)

Syrian regime fighters take up positions as they advance to retake the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS. (AFP)

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Moscow - 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 says.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday informed President Vladimir Putin of the completion of the operation, said spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

A monitoring group following the conflict said that while the jihadists had pulled out of Palmyra Syrian regime forces had yet to move into the entire city.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman said: "ISIS had fully withdrawn from Palmyra, but the Syrian army is still clearing neighbourhoods of mines and has not spread out into the whole city yet".

Battling through desert

The historic oasis city has traded hands several times during the six-year civil war and become a symbol of ISIS'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. ISIS fighters were driven out in March 2016 but recaptured the city in December last year.

Bolstered by Russian air strikes and ground troops, Syrian government forces have been battling through the desert for weeks to reach Palmyra.

Read more on:    unesco  |  syrian observatory for human rights  |  russia  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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