MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. The Syrian government troops’ operation to liberate the ancient town of Palmyra, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, would have been impossible without Russia’s support, an informed source in Damascus told TASS over the phone on Sunday.
The Syrian media reported early on Sunday morning that the government troops had liberated Palmyra located 215 km (133.5 miles) from Damascus and started mine-clearing in the streets of the town.
The famous ancient ruins have remained in Palmyra, which is called the pearl of the Syrian Desert. They are on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list.
The source confirmed that the Syrian government troops had established control of the historical part of Palmyra.
"I’m personally grateful to Russia for that," he said.
The source also said that the Syrian army had advanced to Qariatin southwest of Palmyra where the terrorists were entrenched.
"The army is already taking control of the outskirts of Qariatin," the source said.
The Russian Center for the Syrian Ceasefire said on Saturday evening that Russia’s air task force had flown 40 sorties over the past twenty-four hours in the area of the settlement of Tadmor near Palmyra.
The Russian warplanes delivered strikes against 158 terrorist objectives, killing over 100 militants, destroying four tanks, three artillery pieces, four depots with ammunition and five motor vehicles.
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.