Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air raids, reclaimed the ancient city of Palmyra on Saturday. The city was under ISIS occupation for 10 months.
The Syrian forces have now claimed control over majority of the regions in Palmyra. However, clashes started around the prison and inside the airport in the eastern part of the city, reported Reuters. Russian media quoted the defence ministry in Moscow saying Russian jets had carried out 40 air-strikes hitting 158 ISIS targets.
Syrian, opposition, however, blames the government for the rise of ISIS and rejected the government’s claim.
Khaled Nasser, a member of the opposition coalition, said, “The government wants through this operation to win the favor of Western nations by fighting against terrorism while obscuring its responsibility as providing the reasons for the spread of terror.”
Syrian Culture Minister Issam Khalil hailed the victory and said that it was a “victory for humanity and right over all projects of darkness. The ancient city of Palmyra has been recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
ISIS drove government forces from Palmyra and destroyed some of the well-known monuments in its UNESCO heritage site, reported WGNTV.com.
In August IS fighters demolished the temples of Bel and Baal Shamin, which were nearly 2 millennia old and regarded as cultural landmarks.
Antiquities chief Maamoun Abdelkarim affirmed after the victory that the temples, as well as, the funeral towers and a triumphal arch would be restored. He said, “We will rebuild them with the stones that remain, and with the remaining columns.”
He further stated, “(We will) bring life back to Palmyra.”
A statement from the army general command said that by recapturing Palmyra, the army would be able to launch the neccessary offensive against IS in Raqqa and Dier al-Zor.
The statement further read, “This achievement represents a mortal blow to the terrorist organisation and lays the foundation for a great collapse in the morale of its mercenaries and the beginning of its defeat.”
Last year in December Iraqi forces recaptured Ramadi. Ramadi is a crucial city in the fight against IS.