In the heart of the city
The state-run Syrian television on 24 March reported that the troops of Assad managed to advance into the city and enter into the "heart" of Palmyra, knocking out Islamic state terrorists (banned in Russia). In the city street fights proceed with the support of the Russian aircraft that bombed the supply routes of terrorists to the North of the ancient city.
Previously, the military was told that they managed to capture the historical part of the city, to occupy the commanding heights and the suburbs.
According to the Governor of HOMS province, Talal Barazi, within 48 hours, the Syrian army will be able to capture the city and win "a crushing victory in Palmira" (quote via Associated Press). Disagree with him researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Grigory Melamedov. "To speak about a victory while early. The army was not included in the areas of new city and for the airport will be heavy fighting", — the expert predicts in an interview with RBC.
Forces of the parties
To attack the city, which is about a year kept ISIS, the Syrian army is widely used not only manpower, but also artillery. In the video of the Russia TV channel, filmed during the first days of the offensive, included in the frame of the rocket systems of volley fire "Hurricane", 122-mm howitzer D-30 and heavy flame thrower system "the Sun". According to social media Syrian military, Assad's army also uses Russian 120-mm mortars.
The operation involved more than 6 thousand people. The core is the units of the Syrian army and the forces of national self-defense. In the key moments of the onset of their support of Shia militants from Iraq, the insurgents from Iran and some groups of the Lebanese Hezbollah. Supports ground forces 67th tank brigade. Manages the operation of Suhel al-Hasan, the commander of the special unit "Tigers" — the elite units of the Syrian army. The number of militants in the city is unknown.
Two weeks of the offensive the Syrian army has lost 87 soldiers. Losses of terrorists, according to various estimates range from 100 to 120 people. Most of them died as a result of aerial bombardments and shellings. Also, according to the Syrian military, during the operation were killed two emirs of the city.
The progress of the operation
The attack on Palmyra began with preparatory air strikes Russian HQs on 9 March. The bombing killed 32 terrorists of ISIS. Three days later, on 12 March, after a massive artillery preparation, the troops of al-Assad attacked the village of Dawa in the West from Palmyra. At the same time in the South and in the North of the village turned full-scale offensive with the participation of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi and Iranian troops.
For the week, with the support of Russian aircraft by the Syrian military managed to cut the main supply route u highway, going North to the village of Yttrium. 22 March, after a massive artillery attacks of the Syrian army occupied "triangle of Palmyra" is a key transportation point to the South-West of the city, the interchange going West of the country highway.
The value of the city
The strategic importance of the city due to its position — Palmyra is located in Central Syria and the city of energy resources, experts say.
About Palmyra are strategic for the Syrian oil and gas fields, said Grigory Melamedov. According to him, out of the city are oil and gas pipelines that supply the West with fuel. In addition, the expert points out, the city goes through several motorways: the "capital" of ISIS Raqqa, the province of Hama and the town of Dair AZ-Zaur. "Palmyra is connected by roads with all the hot spots of the country, which are now fierce fighting," — emphasizes the importance of the city Melamedov.
Aside from the financial targets for the Assad army's standing and image of the goal, believes Deputy Director of the Institute for political and military analysis Alexander Khramchikhin. Choosing the Palmyra for the main shock also stems from the fact that the operation in the North, in Aleppo, frozen, he said. In Palmyra only one enemy — the terrorists, while in Aleppo a large number of groups. Some of them have agreements about a truce, like an expert. To avoid brittle fracture in the agreements, he said, the Syrian army tries not to provoke opposition and chooses a different direction — the East.
What is Palmyra
Palmyra — one of the largest cities, a rich center of Commerce and culture of late antiquity. The city is situated in an oasis of the Syrian desert, near the border with Iraq. Ruins of ancient Roman buildings, located in the city, a UNESCO world heritage site. Among them, the temple of Bel (I century BC), the temple Balsamina (II century ad), Agora (III century), the amphitheater and the caravanserai. Some of the monuments were evacuated until 2012, however, most of them transportable.
Troops banned in Russia "Islamic state" has captured Palmyra 21 may 2015. On their activities in the city can be judged according to eyewitnesses, publishing photos and videos of the militants and satellite shots. Aware of mass executions that the militants carried out among ancient ruins. It is well established that the militants destroyed a statue of the "lion of Allat", Balsamina temple, the temple of Bel, funerary towers in the Valley of the tombs and a triumphal arch. However, this scale of destruction can only be judged after the full liberation of the city.
Until 2015 within the city there were about 70 thousand people. Most of them left the city. Now the city has less than 15 thousand inhabitants.
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