Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad described the recapture of Palymra from “Islamic State” (IS) militia as a success for the army’s strategy against terrorism, reported Syrian state TV.
Syrian regime forces, backed by Syrian and Russian air forces, managed to recapture the historic city of Palmyra after defeating IS militants at the UNESCO world heritage site after the terror group seized it last year, reported Syrian state TV and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syrian army military units and loyal militants recaptured IS’ last stronghold in the city, according to Syrian state TV. The Syrian Engineering Corps swept the city for landmines.
Regime forces broke into Palmyra’s military airport following clashes with IS militants near the city’s prison, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The majority of IS militants withdrew, leaving Palmyra in the hands of Syrian army.
The recapture of Palmyra will open the way for regime troops to the eastern cities of Raqqa and Der El Zor, which are controlled by IS.
The Syrian army said, in a statement, that the city will be a base to further expand the fight against IS in eastern IS-controlled cities.
State TV broadcast pictures from inside the city this morning showing empty streets.
The expulsion of IS from Palmyra is considered another major defeat for the terror group after their loss of Iraqi city Ramadi three months ago.
IS militants destroyed several temples in Palmyra since its forces captured the city in May.
The Syrian government promised to repair all destroyed historic sites in Palmyra. Reuters cited Ma’amon Abdelkareem, head of the Syrian Antiquity Authority, as saying that the Roman temples and structures which were blown up by IS last year will be restored once the regime has full control of the city.
“We still fear what happened there … the destruction of the two temples [Baal Shamin and Bel], the triumphal arch, and the funeral towers,” he said.
Samuel Hardey, a trafficking researcher, told Daily News Egypt that the Syrian government must first assess the damage. “I don’t think they will reconstruct Palmyra immediately, only once they have security. Its reconstruction would be a symbolic act, politically as well as culturally, so I believe that they will do it,” Hardey said.
IS is also believed to have smuggled several Syrian artefacts in order to fund its activities.