BEIRUT, December 12. /TASS/. Syrian troops evacuated 80% residents from the landmark historic city of Palmyra before retreating from it, the Governor of Homs Governorate, Talal al-Barazi told the Sham FM radio on Sunday.
He said the top command of the Syrian army had taken a decision to withdraw troops from the city in the face of the numerically stronger enemy force. "But this was done only after the evacuation of civilians," he indicated.
At the same time, al-Barazi voiced concern over the plight of the residents remaining in Palmyra, as the Islamic State terrorists might use them as a live shield.
He also said the regular Syrian troops and the volunteer units were conducting fierce combat actions against the IS formations that had seized Palmyra and there was no threat of an IS breakthrough towards the city of Homs.
Al-Barazi also voiced the confidence Palmyra would be liberated from the IS hordes again very shortly.
According to his information, the IS had moved reinforcements (of about 5,000 militants) to Palmyra from Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and neighboring Iraq.
"In spite of numeric superiority, the Syrian servicemen are fighting heroically and the terrorists are suffering big losses," al-Barazi said. "The Air Force continues attacking their positions, too."
IS units attacked Palmyra, which is located 240 km away from Damascus, on Friday. The Armed Forces command dispatched reinforcements from Homs.
Apart from the city, the militants tried to seize oil wells and an airbase located nearby.
Syrian troops liberated Palmyra from the IS the previous time on March 27 with assistance from the Russian Aerospace Force. Later on, Russian army engineers took part in the removal of mines from the city's residential districts and from the unique monuments of antiquity the city of famous for.