Syria army enters ISIL-held Palmyra: monitor
BEIRUT // Syria’s army entered the ancient city of Palmyra late on Wednesday after fierce battles against ISIL, a monitor said.
“The army has entered a western neighbourhood of Palmyra and has seized control of part of it,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“There are clashes and heavy shelling” across the historic city.
Mr Abdel Rahman said earlier that Syrian forces, backed by Russian soldiers, had captured a string of hilltops overlooking Palmyra, bringing them within firing range of its western half.
“They are close to capturing the citadel. IS withdrew from it, but they may have left suicide bombers inside,” he said.
Supported by Russian air strikes and ground troops, government forces have been battling for weeks through the desert in the central province of Homs to reach Palmyra.
ISIL first seized Palmyra in May 2015 and began to systematically destroy the city’s monuments and temples, while also looting its many archaeological treasures.
They were driven out in March 2016 but recaptured the town last December.
* Agence France-Presse
Updated: March 1, 2017 04:00 AM