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PALMYRA /Syria/, March 5. /TASS/. Syria’s Palmyra has been liberated from terrorists thanks to thorough preparation of the operation, involvement of the Russian task force and selfless effort of the Syrian army, Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, the commander of the Russian task force in Syria, said on Sunday.
"The operation to recapture Palmyra was conducted as scheduled. It was thoroughly prepared. We took into account of the specifics of the previous Palmyra liberation operation which made it possible to fulfil the task within rather short time and with minimal casualties," he said.
Kartapolov noted the role of the Russian aerospace force in the liberation of Palmyra as it "stripped the enemy of a possibility of maneuvering and delivering reserves." "I would like to note the actions of the Russian task force which conducted reconnaissance and delivered strikes at the most critical targets. I cannot but praise the unexampled courage and selflessness of Syrian soldiers, officers and militias who did not spare their lives to retake this city to return it not only to the Syrian people, but also to the entire humankind," he said.
"I think the most important thing now is that Syrian soldiers and officers have taken confidence in themselves that they can win back all that has been lost. Now that they have felt the taste of victory they will keep to this path," Kartapolov added.
Syria’s Brigadier General Fawaz Mustafa also hailed the role of the Russian air task force in the liberation of Palmyra. "Russian air force has played a decisive role in our victory. The area is mountainous and aviation was needed to help our troops recapture Palmyra," he said.
He said he is confident Palmyra will be restored. "I am confident everything will be restores because Palmyra is our history, our memory. We will restore everything with the help of our friends. Everything here will be as it used to," he pledged.
Palmyra, he noted, is a symbol of civilization. "Islamic State is an enemy to the civilization. The (terrorists) have ruined the Roman Theatre, many other monuments. We will be fighting against them to exterminate them," the Syrian general stressed. "The international community must get united against Islamic State to exterminate this enemy of the humankind."
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin on March 2 that the Syrian government troops had recaptured Palmyra with the support of the Russian air task force.
Militants of the Islamic State terrorist grouping (outlawed in Russia) seized Palmyra in May 2015 and in late March 2016 the Syrian government troops liberated the city with the support of the Russian air task force. Russian combat engineers worked for a month and a half in Palmyra where they defused mines first in the city’s historical part and then its residential quarters. They cleared 825 hectares of the territory, 8,500 buildings and structures and neutralized about 18,000 explosives. In December last year, Palmyra was recaptured by extremists.