The Syrian Army took control of the historic town after fierce fighting with Daesh militants. The Syrian state television reported that the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) was defeated and the army was now in control of the citadel in Palmyra
The town had fallen to the extremist group last year in May. A military source stated on the media that Syrian Army and its allied popular defense forces had inflicted heavy losses on Daesh as it took control of the ancient citadel.
The Syrian army had entered the town from the northwest after defeating the militants in the some parts of the Valley of Tombs.
Fierce clashes are still raging at the site.
Russian jets are providing support to the Syrian army in an around Palmyra. This is despite the fact that Moscow is currently pulling out its army personnel and military hardware from the country. A Russian Special Forces member was killed near the same site a few days ago.
The town of Palmyra has temples that date back thousands of years many of which have been damaged or simply blown up by the Islamic State. The original population of the town was 70,000 out of which only 15,000 remained. The Islamic State had been urging the civilians to leave the town ahead of the looming battle with the Syrian army.
The victory at Palmyra will be a morale boosting stimulus for Bashar al Assad and his forces. It is also a strategic victory since the control of the town will automatically allow the Syrian army to control the sprawling desert that borders Iraq.
The recapturing of the town of Palmyra has also raised hopes that some of the ancient monuments within the area may be saved and rebuilt. Maamoun Abdel-Karim, the antiquities chief of Syria stated during an interview:
“Palmyra is not just Syria’s heritage – it is the world’s heritage and must be shared.”
The Syrian army is advancing towards the Temple of Bel which is only a few hundred meters from the main citadel, however, its pace is very slow due to the presence of hidden mines.
On the diplomatic side, American secretary of state John Kerry has principally agreed to work with the Russians but the future of Syria’s incumbent president remains a point which still remains unsettled.