by WorldTribune Staff, December 12, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) regained full control of Palmyra on Dec. 11 after Syrian forces pulled out of the ancient city, a report said.
“Despite the ongoing (Russian) air raids, ISIL retook all of Palmyra after the Syrian army withdrew south of the city,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
ISIL launched a blitz attack, seizing nearby oil and gas fields and northern neighborhoods in Palmyra before capturing the famed citadel to the city’s west, the Observatory said.
The ISIL-linked Amaq news agency also reported that the terror group had regained “full control” of the city on Dec. 11 after taking the citadel, which overlooks Palmyra from a strategic hilltop.
Russian airstrikes reportedly killed hundreds of ISIL jihadists and forced others to withdraw, but the group still managed to recapture the city, the Observatory said.
Russia’s defense ministry said some 5,000 ISIL fighters took part in the offensive.
“During the night, ISIL fighters deployed cars stuffed with explosives and suicide-bombers to break through the Syrian army’s defenses and managed to dig in in Palmyra’s outskirts,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.