Syrian government forces have recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State militants in what has been called a mortal blow.
According to Reuters the loss of Palmyra represents one of the biggest setbacks for the ultra-hardline Islamist group since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across large parts of Syria and Iraq.
The Syrian government forces, backed by heavy Russian air support took Palmyra on Saturday opening up the huge expanse of desert leading east to the Islamic State strongholds of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor.
Drone footage shows ancient Palmyra city after Syrian recapture. WATCH: https://t.co/PiKdwjXMpThttps://t.co/glwTanjX8I
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 28, 2016
The recapture came too late for many of Palmrya’s historic sites, though, including the Temple of Bel, considered Palmyra’s most important historical structure, which was destroyed by IS.
The militants also destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin as well as the Arch of Triumph, looted graves and used the ancient amphitheatre to stage executions.
Palmyra’s contemporary strategic importance lies in its location in central Syria.
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