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Russia's General Staff reveals details of Palmyra operation

At least 1,000 Islamic State militants were either killed or wounded during the operation, according to the Russian General Staff

MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. Russia’s Aerospace Force has destroyed almost 300 facilities of the Islamic State terror group near the city of al-Bab, Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi said on Friday.

"The offensive launched by the Syrian government troops east of al-Bab has been advancing," he added. "In the past ten days, a total of 36 settlements, located in an area of 400 square kilometers, have been liberated. The Russian Aerospace Force has destroyed 278 facilities of the Islamic State, including warehouses and strongholds, as well as military hardware convoys and militant groups."  

"Over the past month, the Syrian troops liberated 52 settlements and drove militants out of an area totaling 1,702 square kilometers. This was made possible thanks to the activities of the Russian Aerospace Force. In the past month, our war planes conducted 991 combat flights destroying 2,300 terrorist facilities," the general added.  

Successful operation 

Special Operations forces and Russian Aerospace Force have turned the tide leading to the defeat of Islamic State militants in Palmyra, Rudskoi has noted. 

"Russian aviation and Special Operations forces have made a considerable contribution to the defeat of ISIS [former name of Islamic State, the terrorist group banned in Russia - TASS] near Palmyra," Rudskoi said.

At least 1,000 Islamic State militants were either killed or wounded in the operation:

"Success has been achieved in Palmyra despite the fact that the number of militants had been growing as IS members were leaving Mosul and Raqqa. However, this did not help the international coalition to achieve the goals set last year," Rudskoi stressed.

"As many as 19 tanks were destroyed along with 37 infantry fighting vehicles, 98 pick-up trucks with installed heavy weaponry and over 100 other vehicles," he added.

The ancient city of Palmyra 

The Syrian government troops are continuing their advance in the eastern part of the country. 

The Russian air task force delivered no airstrikes in the area of historical monuments in the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra, Rudskoi emphasized: 

"Let me stress that no airstrikes were delivered in the area of historical monuments in ancient Palmyra to preserve the historical heritage, which terrorists of the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization outlawed in Russia] had no time to destroy."   

During the period of their control of the ancient city=, the terrorists destroyed the famous Arch of Triumph with the colonnade - the city’s visiting card - and also blew up the Temple of Baalshamin and the sanctuary of the supreme Semitic god Baal. The militants plundered the national museum and the Palmyra Necropolis - the tower tombs of the patricians.

The terrorists brutally killed Syrian scientist Khaled al-Assad after the world-renowned 82-year-old archeologist refused to show vandals the places where artefacts were hidden.

On January 20, the IS militants destroyed another renowned monument of ancient Palmyra: the tetrapylon monument and the fa·ade of the ancient Roman theater built in the second century A.D. Its stage hosted a concert on May 5 last year by Russia’s Mariinsky Theater conducted by Valery Gergiyev.

On March 2, Russia’s Defense Minister reported to Vladimir Putin that the Syrian government troops have completed their operation to seize Palmyra with the support of the Russian air task force.

Militants of the Islamic State seized Palmyra in May 2015 and in late March 2016 the Syrian government troops liberated the city with the support of the Russian air task force. In December last year, Palmyra was recaptured by extremists.

Special Operations forces are trained to fulfil "special tasks." Russian Defense Ministry defines these tasks as "methods and modes of conducting combat activity, using unconventional tactics and techniques, namely reconnaissance, sabotage, subversion, and counterterrorism, counterintelligence, guerilla and anti-guerilla operations among others."