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Islamic State overruns most of Syria’s ancient Palmyra: Monitor

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Published on May 22, 2015 with No Comments

Islamic State group fighters overran most of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra in a blow to efforts to repel the advancing jihadists after the fall of Iraq’s Ramadi.
The jihadists, notorious for demolishing archaeological treasures since declaring a “caliphate” last year straddling Iraq and Syria, appeared to have fought their way into Palmyra on foot after breaking through in the city’s north.
It was unclear if they had reached Palmyra’s UNESCO-listed heritage site, including ancient temples and colonnaded streets, and its adjacent museum housing priceless artefacts, located in the city’s southwest.
“IS controls almost all of Palmyra” following the withdrawal of government troops from all sectors except for a prison in the east and military intelligence headquarters in the west, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
An activist originally from Palmyra, Mohamed Hassan al-Homsi, said on the Internet that “a large number of regime forces were seen gathering near the military intelligence branch and withdrawing.”
Government warplanes responded by carrying out air strikes on IS positions in the city.
News of Palmyra’s fall came shortly after a State Department official said the weekend loss of Ramadi had prompted the United States to take an “extremely hard look” at its strategy to confront the extremists. Hundreds of statues and artefacts from Palmyra’s museum have been transferred out of the city, according to Abdulkarim, but many others — including massive tombs — could not be moved.

 

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