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Russian Defense Ministry: Attack on Palmyra shows terrorists should not be given break

According to Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov, terrorists should be facing "pressure from all directions"
The ancient city of Palmyra in Tadmur District, Homs Governorate, Syria EPA/SERGEI CHIRIKOV
The ancient city of Palmyra in Tadmur District, Homs Governorate, Syria

MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. The Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) militants’ attack on Palmyra has shown that terrorists should not be given respite, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Monday.

"This attack has once again demonstrated that terrorists should not have the smallest chance to take a break, for they always take advantage of such respites to regroup and then carry out a sudden attack," he said.

"They should be facing pressure from all directions so that their activities are limited and they and eventually eliminated wherever they are, in Syria, in Iraq or in any other country," Konashenkov elaborated.

The general noted that joining forces was the only way to achieve the final victory over terrorists.

Attack of terrorists

More than 5,000 militants of the Islamic State (terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) have launched an offensive against Syrian troops in the area of Palmyra, Konashenkov said.

"Over the past two days militants of the terrorist organization Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) launched several attacks on the positions of Syrian troops in the area of Palmyra. The terrorists were pushing ahead from the North, the East and the South. The attackers numbered more than 5,000."

Konashenkov said that there had not been a group that large near Palmyra until last Thursday.

"Apparently, the IS militants had gathered around Palmyra, being very certain that combat operations in Raqqa would not resume," he said.

Konashenkov noted that Russia's Aerospace Forces do not carry out airstrikes against Palmyra’s residential areas, the gunmen have stepped up their offensive taking advantage of the moment.

The Syrian army rolled back two first heavy attacks by militants with support from Russia’s aerospace group.

"The militants were widely using suicide car bombs, armored vehicles and rocket launchers. Russian planes dealt 64 air strikes against the militants’ groups, positions and approaching reserves when they were still very far away from Palmyra," Konashenkov said.

He recalled that as a result 11 tanks and armored vehicles, 31 trucks armed with heavy machineguns and 300 militants were wiped out.

"As dusk set in, though, Islamic State militants used suicide car bombs to break through the Syrian army’s defenses and despite heavy losses managed to gain a foothold on the outskirts of the city," he said.

The Islamic State terrorist group attacked Palmyra, located 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Damascus, last Friday. Homs Province Governor Talal al-Barazi said the Syrian troops had managed to evacuate 80% of residents before retreating.

Liberation of Palmyra

Konashenkov said that authorities of Syria are doing everything to free the city of Palmyra from militants as soon as possible.

"Under the current circumstances the Syrian troops are holding their positions near the city after having evacuated the residents of Palmyra and vacating the city," Konashenkov said. "The authorities of the country are doing everything to liberate the city as soon as possible."

According to various reports, the government troops were forced by militants to retreat from the central districts of Palmyra by Sunday night.

Syrian troops liberated Palmyra from the IS the previous time on March 27 with assistance from the Russian Aerospace Forces. Later on, Russian sappers took part in the mine clearance effort in the city's residential districts and the unique monuments of antiquity.