Daesh Pulls Back from Syria's Palmyra
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Daesh terrorists withdrew from much of the Syrian oasis city of Palmyra overnight, activists said Thursday, but Syrian army forces paused before entering its ravaged ancient ruins because of mines.
Syrian troops pushed into a western neighborhood of the city late Wednesday after fierce clashes with the terrorists.
By Thursday morning, Daesh had withdrawn to residential neighborhoods in the east of the city, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Daesh withdrew from most of Palmyra after laying mines across the city. There are still suicide bombers left in the eastern neighborhoods," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
"Government forces have not yet been able to enter the heart of the city or the eastern parts."
Palmyra's ancient ruins have long been listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
Before Daesh entered the city in May 2015, they boasted temples, colonnaded alleys and elaborately decorated tombs that were among the best preserved classical monuments in the Middle East.
But the terrorists launched a campaign of destruction against them, the scale of which was fully revealed when government forces briefly retook the city with Russian support last year.
Satellite imagery has shown that Daesh has demolished more monuments since it recaptured Palmyra from government forces in December.
"There are no Daesh fighters left in most of the Old City, but it is heavily mined," the Observatory chief said.
Government forces have been battling through the desert for weeks to reach Palmyra.
On Wednesday, a senior military source in Damascus said the army had reached a strategic crossroads leading into Palmyra.
"This crossroads is the key to entering the city," the source said.