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Syrian army declares capturing Palmyra city

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-03 09:22

Syrian army declares capturing Palmyra city

Smoke rises over the rebel-held area of Ain Tarma, eastern countryside of Damascus, capital of Syria, on Feb 7, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

DAMASCUS -- The Syrian army announced in a statement that the Syrian forces captured the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria on Thursday after battles with the Islamic State (IS) group.

Following a series of successful operations backed by Russian and Syrian air forces, the Syrian army and allied fighters captured the city of Palmyra and its surroundings, the army said in a statement.

The achievement came after the Syrian forces inflicted hefty losses on the IS militants, said the statement, adding that bomb squads are currently combing the city to defuse the leftovers of the IS roadside bombs and explosives.

"This importance of this achievement emanates from the cultural and historic value of Palmyra," said the statement, adding that the victory in Palmyra against IS also coincides with the victories of the Syrian army in the eastern countryside of Aleppo against IS.

"These victories deal a big blow to the terrorist group, which has started to retreat under the strikes of the Syrian army and allied forces," it said.

Capturing Palmyra constitutes a base for expanding the campaign against IS on many fronts and also helps suffocate the group's supply lines.

"The Syrian army and its allies are today more determined to continue the operations against IS and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front as well as other likeminded groups until restoring security and stability to every inch of the homeland," the statement concluded.

The Syrian army backed by Russian air force and fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah group unleashed a counter offensive to retake the city on Jan. 14 this year, just days after the IS militants took the city for the second time.

Last December, the group stormed the city for the second time after losing it nine months earlier to the Syrian army.


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