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Assad says recent attack on Palmyra proves militants have some countries’ support

Assad said "the Palmyra issue should not be linked only to Mosul since there are IS members in Raqqa, northern Syria"

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. The recent attack of the Islamic State (terrorist group outlawed in Russia) militants on the city of Palmyra shows that they still have some countries’ support, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Russia’s national TV broadcaster Rossiya 24.

"We believe that Islamic State’s recent attack on Palmyra, which involved a large number of militants who had crossed a distance of tens of kilometers and who were armed with weapons that we don’t have here, proves that some countries still support them, so the IS members had not arrived in Palmyra from Mosul just like that," Assad said when asked how IS could have redeployed so many militants from Iraq’s Mosul to Palmyra.

The Syrian president stated that "the Palmyra issue should not be linked only to Mosul since there are IS members in Raqqa, northern Syria, as well, where the IS-led coalition claims to be delivering air strikes for two years." He pointed out that there were IS members even in Deir ez-Zour "where the US-led coalition targeted (Syrian) government troops instead of bombing the IS positions."

"The first question is, how was it possible to pull out heavy artillery from Mosul? Second, why did the US air force do nothing about it while they have been carrying out strikes on Mosul and Raqqa?" Assad went on to say. "The truth is that most of the terrorists came from Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour, they either were supported by the Americans or at least the Americans knew about their plans but turned a blind eye to them and allowed Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to fulfill this mission by supporting and sponsoring IS."

The Islamic State terrorists attacked Palmyra, located 240 kilometers from Damascus, last Friday, December 9. The terrorists attempted to seize oil wells and a military airfield on the outskirts of the city. On Sunday night, Syrian troops were reported to have retreated from the central part of the city while continuing to fight the terrorists.

The Syrian army, supported by the Russian Aerospace Force, had liberated Palmyra from the IS terrorists on March 27, 2016. After that Russian sappers took part in demining the city, particularly its ancient monuments.