A statement from state media, as well as photographic evidence has confirmed that the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) is under the full control of Syrian government forces. The confirmation came after several activists on the ground also reported the capture.
ISIS fighters had earlier begun evacuating civilians from the town of Palmyra in central Syria. Palmyra had been captured mid last year by the terrorist group as it expanded west from its strongholds along the Euphrates. The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has been attempting to retake the city ever since it was lost in this devastating defeat almost a year ago.
While the fighting to reclaim the city has been ongoing for months, a new offensive began in recent weeks backed by significant Russian jet fighter and helicopter support. As well, Syrian government ground troops also made use of new Russian supplied heavy multiple rocket systems including the BM-27 Urugan and the TOS-1 thermobaric rocket launcher. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest the Russian ground troops and special forces played a significant role in spearheading this attack.
Nonetheless, the fighting to retake Palmyra was bloody for both sides. Due to the nature of the terrain, the advancing government forces lost many armored vehicles including tanks and APCs to guided missiles and IEDs. As well, ambushes killed many troops including at least 5 Russian Special Forces. On ISIS’s side losses were equally, if not more even severe, with SAA-affiliated social media accounts posting a continuous steam of images of dead fighters from the terrorist group.
This major tactical victory is also a much needed morale boost for the government and allows for further advances towards Deir ez-Zor, where ISIS have been steadily making gains against government positions and have been besieging the airport for several years.