Reports coming from Russian military advisers in Syria claim 4,000 Islamic State aka IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh terrorists, equipped with tanks (now what bunch of turkey's did they get those from we wonder?),armoured vehicles, and modern artillery are staging an offensive to retake the Syrian city of Palmyra after regrouping following retreats from Aleppo and Mosul in Iraq, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria says.
According to Russian sources, the terrorists have also benefitted from considerable reinforcement, including heavy military hardware from the regions of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.
“IS has dispatched a considerable force to Palmyra from the area of Raqqa, where militants, backed by the US and the international coalition ceased combat action against the terrorists this week,” the statement by the Russian military says. The Reconciliation Center notes that the Syrian Army and their Iranian allies are engaging the jihadists in combat.
"Despite heavy losses in manpower and hardware, the terrorists seek to gain a foothold in the city while the Russian Air Force is not conducting airstrikes against residential areas in the city of Palmyra," the statement reads.
Palmyra was seized by IS in 2015, however in March this year Syrian government forces reinforced by troops from Iran and backed by Russian air support, managed to liberate the city. On Saturday night however, the Syrian Army, backed by Russian air strikes, managed to repel several attacks on Palmyra, killing up to 300 jihadists, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Also on Saturday, terrorists reportedly entered some of Palmyra’s districts forcing the Syrian troops to withdraw from some of their positions. According to AP, citing the activist-run Palmyra Coordination network, jihadists gained footholds in the northern and northwestern districts of Palmyra.
Back in October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that terrorists “were fleeing from Mosul to go to Syria.”
Meanwhile, the IS news agency Amaq has claimed that the jihadists have seized the city completely. In particular they claimed IS has control of the ancient castle in Palmyra, which overlooks the city.
In an interview with Russia Today, British journalist Martin Jay alleged that some of the fighters now attacking Palmyra might indeed have come from Iraq.
"Mosul in the early months of the campaign was quite open and there were many so-called rat runs for ISIS fighters to leave the city and headfor ISIS controlled territory. I think in the first few weeks of the campaign when it was first announced by Prime Minister Abadi in Iraq, many fighters fled and moved to different areas across the border in Syria," Jay said.
He noted that the fresh battle for Palmyra could take "quite some time" and in fact become a "prolonged" one. To prevent Russian aircraft from helping Syrian government forces, terrorists might also go deep into residential areas and take people there hostage. using them as shields.
"That's the tactic that worked for them from the very early days, you know, use civilians as buffers against air strikes." Jay also noted that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) might use the attack on Palmyra [listed as UNESCO heritage] as a PR tool since "the world cares a great deal [more] about Palmyra than it probably does about Aleppo, and ISIS knows this."
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