Photo: Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy
The Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, has completed the operation to liberate the historic city of Palmyra from so-called Islamic State terrorists, according to the Kremlin spokesman citing Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s report to President Vladimir Putin, Sputnik reports.
Earlier reports indicated that IS militants had been largely withdrawn from the city following a fierce offensive by the government forces, which led to the recapture of the strategic hills around Palmyra and the Palmyra citadel on Wednesday.
IS seized Palmyra, which was the capital of the Palmyrene Empire and one of the richest cities of the Roman Empire, in May 2015. Terrorists destroyed a number of historic sights designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Arch of Triumph, the Temple of Baalshamin and the Temple of Bel. Jihadists also looted the national museum and the famous Palmyra’s necropolis.
Less than a year after that the Syrian army supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces managed to liberate Palmyra. Russian specialists demined the historic center as well as residential areas of the city. Russian historians and renovators visited Palmyra in early July 2016 and prepared a report assessing the condition of the damaged sites and costs of the renovation works. However, in December 2016, the city was retaken by IS.