Five people have been killed and many others wounded following intense Russian airstrikes against Daesh in Palmyra, in an attempt to shore up the crumbling Assad regime forces who have completely withdrawn and surrendered the city to the militant group.
Not only have Daesh successfully managed to force the Assad regime’s greatly weakened army to withdraw from Palmyra, but they have had enough time to reinforce their newly regained positions in the ancient city, killing well over 100 of Syrian soldiers and Shia militia fighters.
Daesh announced that it had captured 30 Russian-made tanks as well as large quantities of materiel, including Grad rocket launchers with ammunition, while killing at least 120 men loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad, Al Jazeera reported.
The Governor of Homs province, Talal Al-Burazi, had previously admitted that Palmyra, known as Tadmur in Arabic, was lost to Daesh after the Assad regime’s forces completely withdrew in the face of the onslaught over the weekend.
Daesh had held Palmyra until it lost the city to a Russian-backed Assad regime offensive. Following its recapture in March this year, the Assad regime and its Russian backers held concerts and celebrated to large public fanfare.
The loss of Palmyra has been seen as an enormous embarrassment to both Moscow and Damascus, with a nervous Kremlin attempting to present its failure to protect Palmyra as an international problem.
“The threat of losing Palmyra is a loss for all civilised humankind, not just for Russia,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today.
The Kremlin also added that the loss of Palmyra shows how serious the Daesh threat remains. This despite many statements from Moscow making claims that its intervention had stunted “terrorism” in Syria.
Russia, Iran and Syria refer to any anti-Assad regime factions as “terrorists”, irrespective of whether they have anything to do with terrorism or not.
Analysts also suggest that the loss of Palmyra is down to the Assad regime and its backers focusing all of their efforts on crushing what remains of pro-democracy opposition factions in Aleppo, leaving their rear unprotected and allowing Daesh to expand rather than shrink, as was Russia’s stated objective when it launched its military intervention.
Russia intervened on behalf of the Iran-backed Assad regime over a year ago and reversed Al-Assad’s fortunes over the past year. Eastern Aleppo, one of the Syrian opposition’s last strongholds, is on the cusp of falling with Moscow claiming 93% of the Syrian city is now in regime hands.