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Iran Press TV

Daesh pulls back from much of Syrian ancient city: Report

Iran Press TV

Thu Mar 2, 2017 8:52AM

Daesh Takfiri militants reportedly withdrew from much of Palmyra overnight amid a major push by the Syrian army to rid the ancient city of the terrorists.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Daesh had pulled back to residential areas in the east of Palmyra by Thursday morning.

The terror group "withdrew from most of Palmyra after laying mines across the city," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, adding that there are still Daesh bombers in the city's eastern neighborhoods.

"Government forces have not yet been able to enter the heart of the city or the eastern parts," he noted.

Syrian forces, backed by the Russian air force, pushed into a western neighborhood of the city late on Wednesday after heavy clashes with Daesh.

The Syrian troops also managed to retake a palace complex to the city's southwest.

Earlier in the day, an unnamed Syrian military source told Reuters that the Syrian troops, backed by Russia's air cover, had advanced to the outskirts of Palmyra, also known in Arabic as Tadmur, in the last few days and their "entry to the city will begin very soon."

The developments came on the same day as the Syrian military announced the recapture of an area called the "Palmyra triangle" a few kilometers west of the city. Earlier reports had said the Syrian army and its allies had retaken the Palmyra citadel, on the city's western outskirts.

Meanwhile, Syria's official SANA news agency reported that the gain followed fierce clashes between Daesh militants and the Syrian army and its allied fighters, leaving scores of the terrorists dead or injured.

The Syrian army, backed by Russia's counter-terrorism airstrikes, liberated Palmyra in March 2016, ending Daesh's 10-month grip over the city.

However, Daesh managed to seize the historic city once again in December 2016 after days of intense fighting as the Syrian military focused mainly on defeating terrorist groups in eastern Aleppo.

During both of its spells in control of Palmyra, Daesh razed ancient monuments and dismantled key parts of the city's UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Syrian forces have been fighting different foreign-backed militant groups wreaking havoc in the Middle Eastern country since 2011.

Over the past few months, troops have made sweeping gains against Takfiri terrorists who have lately increased their acts of violence across Syria following a series of defeats in Aleppo and elsewhere.

US-allied militants turn to Damascus

In another development elsewhere in Syria, US-backed Kurdish militants said Thursday that they had reached an agreement with Russia, a Damascus ally, to hand over the villages on the front line with Turkish-allied militants to Syrian government forces.

Those villages are situated west of the Kurdish-held town of Manbij in northern Syria, which has been the scene of fierce fighting between Kurdish forces and Turkish troops and their allied militants.

Manbij was liberated from Daesh last year by Kurdish forces, mainly the Democratic Union Party, also known as the PYD, and its military wing the YPG.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that after Ankara's forces completed their operations in Syria's al-Bab, they will move towards the Manbij.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization, accusing it of having links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

Last August, Turkey began a major military intervention in Syria, in move strongly denounced by Syria an act of aggression and a violation of its sovereignty. Ankara claims the offensive is aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces there.

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