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BEIRUT, March 27. /TASS. The Syrian government troops and people’s militia fighters have fully liberated the ancient town of Palmyra located 215 km (133.5 miles) from Damascus, the Syrian Army’s command said in a statement on Sunday.
"Our troops have established full control of the town and are chasing the remainder of the retreating gangs of Islamic State terrorists," the statement said.
The Syrian troops liquidated on Saturday the terrorists’ stronghold in Al-Amiria, the northern district of Palmyra. The militants were pushed back from the barracks in the districts of al-Mutaqaidin and Jamiyat. The Syrian government troops also captured the local dominating height to control the road to the north to the towns of Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa on the Euphrates.
SANA news agency earlier reported that militants had destroyed the ancient fortress of Emir Fakhr-al-Din on the entrance to Palmyra from the side of Homs. In less than a year of IS control, militants destroyed the famous Arch of Triumph, Temple of Baalshamin and Temple of Ba’al. They also looted the Palmyra Museum and Necropolis.
Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site, was captured by the Islamic State terrorist group at the beginning of last summer. The Syrian authorities said at that time that the unique historical site could share the sad fate of the Iraqi cities of Ashur, Nimrud and Hatra (al-Hadr) destroyed by militants.
The Islamic State terrorist group seized Palmyra early in the summer of 2015. The Syrian authorities warned at that time that the unique historical complex could repeat the sad fate of the ancient Iraqi cities of Ashur and Nimrud, which had been fully ruined and eliminated by militants.
Most Palmyra residents left the city last May together with the Syrian government troops. Now there are from 15,000 to 20,000 people there.