According to Syria’s general command, the country’s forces and its allies have managed to recapture the ancient city of Palmyra from under ISIS occupation. They have also taken back the surrounding areas of the city. The report states that the Syrian army together with the allies have seriously damaged the ISIS forces. The Russian air forces also helped with the operations. ISIS took the ancient city of Palmyra from the regime forces back in December. They succeeded in doing so after hundreds of ISIS supporters launched some violent attacks in and around the city. During Syria’s civil war which has been going on for over five years, both sides of the conflict have considered Palmyra a very important and strategic spot. Hence the situation which is now apparently under control. Palmyra is about 140 from Raqqa which many consider to be the headquarters of the ISIS organization.
Taking back the history
According to some reports, the ISIS militants are retreating from a lot of locations. The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah also helped a lot in dealing with the ISIS forces including the retaking of Palmyra. A Hezbollah television aired a video which shows the fighters camping in the mountains which surround Palmyra and advancing towards the historic city, through the sand. Russian reports stated that their airstrikes played a big role in the recapturing of the city. Interestingly enough, the statement from the Syrian government did not mention anything about the United States forces which have also recently increased the number of strikes in Palmyra.
The United States army conducted 23 strikes directed at the Islamic State forces, tanks and even command centers. During the entire month of February, there have been 45 in Palmyra which the United States conducted. However, the United States forces never mentioned coordinating its attacks with either Russian or Syrian forces.
The destruction of ancient ruins
The ancient city of Palmyra has suffered a lot at the hands of the ISIS militants. Each time the city was captured and then taken back (it happened four times in less than two years), the ancient monuments of the city were affected a lot. While nobody knows the level of damage in the city for now, some photographs which the Russian media posted are showing lots of ruins. Among them, a Roman amphitheater and the Temple of Baalshamin.
The Syrian army has repeatedly said in the past that if they manage to retake Palmyra, they will expand their military operations and focus on Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces. According to the report, the clashes to take back the ancient city began on Wednesday. They did not last much, but it seems like with the help of the allies, they were very effective. All in all, it is always unfortunate when such violent fights are destroying valuable vestiges. In this case, history is the only one which suffers. People should protect the remnants of ancient times at all costs because they are important for each country’s cultural identity. And a country with no identity is vulnerable and will be lost in time.
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