Over 4,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, reinforced by tanks, have started an offensive to retake the key Syrian city of Palmyra after regrouping themselves, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria says.
According to the Russian military, the terrorists have received 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 seized combat action against the terrorists this week,” the statement by the Russian military says. The Reconciliation Center notes that the Syrian Army is engaged in fighting the jihadists.
“Despite heavy losses in manpower and [military] hardware, the terrorists seek to come as close as possible and gain a foothold in the city, as the Russian Air Force is not conducting airstrikes against residential areas in the city of Palmyra,” the statement reads.
Overnight Saturday, 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.
Meanwhile, an IS affiliated Amaq news agency claims the jihadists in fact seized the city. In particular the outlet says IS has control of the ancient castle in Palmyra, which overlooks the city.
According to the Russian Center for Reconciliation, the terrorists are receiving support from jihadists coming from Iraq.
“Earlier [Russian] intelligence spotted a transfer of up to 5,000 IS-militants to the areas of Raqqa and Deyr ez Zor from Mosul, Iraq,” the statement says.
In October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that terrorists “could flee from Mosul and go to Syria.”
Palmyra was seized by IS in 2015, however in March this year Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air support, managed to liberate the city.
Articles by: RT
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