Four Miles From Palmyra: Russian Airstrikes Pound ISIS as Syrian Army Pushes Eastward
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army is now only 4 miles from the gates of Palmyra
As we reported last week, the Syrian army is closing in on the ancient city of Palmyra. Aside from its symbolic importance, controlling Palmyra would also open a strategically vital road to the eastern province of Deir al-Zor. Here's a map from March 5 showing the advance:
According to Reuters, the Syrian army, backed by Russian air support, is now approximately 4 miles from the gates of Palmyra. Here's a map of the current situation:
Multiple reports confirm that the Syrian army is successfully engaging ISIS on the outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, Russian airstrikes have been turning ISIS forces in Palmyra into hamburger meat:
Russian warplanes launched heavy airstrikes against Islamic State positions in the ancient city of Palmyra on Thursday.
The strikes killed dozens of ISIS fighters in a second day of air raids against the area. On Wednesday Russian warplanes carried out 150 raids in that area.
The capture of Palmyra would be a crushing blow to ISIS. As Reuters notes:
The capture of Palmyra and further eastward advances into Islamic State-held Deir al-Zor would mark the most significant Syrian government gain against IS since the start of the Russian intervention. With Russia's help, Damscus has already taken back some ground from IS, notably east of Aleppo.
According to a report from Friday, the Syrian army "destroyed four Daesh firing positions, a large disguised ammunition depot and a command center northwest of the city of Palmyra."
With ISIS being attacked on multiple fronts, the capture of Palmyra now seems inevitable.