Monday, December 12, 2016

ISIS retakes Palmyra?

PALMYRA WATCH: ISIS recaptures Palmyra. The Islamic State recaptures the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra, hours after being pushed out by Russian forces (Arutz Sheva).
The Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group on Sunday recaptured the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra, after Syrian armed forces pulled out of the desert city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, according to AFP.

"Despite the ongoing air raids, ISIS retook all of Palmyra after the Syrian army withdrew south of the city," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The jihadists made a lightning-fast advance across the city after overrunning a northern neighborhood and capturing the famed citadel to Palmyra's west.

The ISIS-linked Amaq news agency also reported that the jihadist group regained "full control" of the city on Sunday after taking the citadel, which overlooks Palmyra from a strategic hilltop.

There were back-and-forth reports over the weekend, but as near as I can tell, this is where matters stand at the moment. If so, I will be surprised if they stay that way for long. The recapture of Palmyra by ISIS is a significant blow to Russian prestige and I don't expect the Russians to let it go unanswered. Of course, that is presumably the purpose of ISIS retargeting Palmyra. They want to distract the Russians and the Syrian army and ease the pressure on Aleppo. Watch this space.

Background on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic recent fate in the hands of ISIS is here with many, many links.