2 March 2017
Around midnight, a military source informed Al-Masdar News that the Islamic State has largely withdrawn its military forces from Palmyra after pro-government units entered a neighborhood in the western part of the ancient city a few hours ago.
However, preliminary reports suggest that ISIS insurgents have scattered booby traps and mines across the entire city while lone suicidal jihadists strapped with explosive belts remain bogged down inside Palmyra to cover the retreat.
Effectively, the SAA is yet to unleash the bulk of its assault troops on Palmyra due to concerns over casualties. Once daylight breaks on Thursday, Syrian government soldiers are expected to descend upon the city and conduct mopping-up operations.
ISIS’ supposed large-scale retreat from Palmyra contradicts footage released by Amaq Agency hours earlier depicting defiant jihadists:
[AMAQ AGENCY VIDEO]
On Wednesday, the SAA liberated the Palmyra crossroad (Palmyra Triangle) and two mountains overlooking Palmyra. The latter advance rendered the city virtually indefensible.
Nevertheless, Amaq Agency reported that two ISIS suicide bombings struck the advancing government troops near the Palmyra Triangle on Wednesday around noon.
Securing the liberation of Palmyra will be the newly formed 5th Legion, elements of the SAA’s 18th Tank Division, Military Shield Forces, Al-Badia branch, Shaitat tribesmen, National Defence Forces, and a contingent of Hezbollah (Lebanese paramilitary).
VIDEO: Russian choppers pound ISIS, deliver air support to Syrian troops in Palmyra
By Majd Fahd
The Syrian ministry of defense online has released combat footage on Thursday morning featuring Russian and Syrian military helicopters striking ISIS positions at the western gate of Palmyra.
On the field, the Syrian Army backed by tribesmen, the national militia and other pro-government allies have recently taken control over the ancient site of the Palmyra Citadel and the surrounding hills which overlook the city.
According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent, initial reports coming from Palmyra suggest that ISIS terrorists have retreated, leaving behind booby traps and mines across the city, also hidden VBIEDs are ready to strike, to disrupt the progress of pro-government troops.