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MOSCOW, March 7. /TASS/. The Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria is trying to facilitate the return of civilians to Palmyra recently liberated from militants, the Center’s head Lieutenant-General Alexei Kim told reporters on Tuesday.
"The Center for Reconciliation has been trying to make the return of civilians to their homes possible," he said during a video conference with the Hmemim air base.
The general added that before militants seized Palmyra in December 2016, the Syrian government forces had evacuated around 90% of residents from the city.
Besides, Kim said that before leaving Palmyra, militants had planted mines in historical buildings and complexes. "Syrian de-miners have started clearing the territory from explosive devices," he added. In addition, the Russian Defense Ministry has decided to send officers of the International Demining Center of the Russian Armed Forces to Palmyra. "They will arrive in Palmyra in a short while," the head of the Center for Reconciliation said.
Militants of the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) first captured Palmyra in May 2015. In late March 2016, the Syrian forces, supported by the Russian Aerospace Force, liberated the city but in December 2016 it was retaken by terrorists. On March 2, 2017, Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that the operation to free Palmyra had been concluded. Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi later said that the operation had been planned and conducted under the guidance of Russian military advisers.