SYRIAN TROOPS FIGHT I.S. IN PALMYRA
Militants forced to retreat to eastern part of ancient city
SYRIAN troops have pushed into Palmyra as they battle to retake the iconic city from the Islamic State group, but their advance was slowed yesterday by landmines laid by militants.
Bolstered by Russian airstrikes and ground troops, government forces have been battling through the desert of central Syria for weeks to reach Palmyra.
The city has traded hands several times during Syria’s civil war and become a symbol of IS’s wanton destruction of cultural heritage in areas under its control.
The latest offensive to retake the city saw government forces break through its western limits on Wednesday, forcing IS fighters to retreat into eastern districts, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“IS withdrew from most of Palmyra after laying mines across the city. There are still suicide bombers left in the eastern neighbourhoods,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
In northern Syria, where Turkey launched a cross-border operation in August, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had managed to regain control of two villages seized on Wednesday by Turkish-backed rebels.
One SDF fighter and two members of Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces were killed in the latest clashes for control of the villages of Tal Turin and Qara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the next target after Al-Bab would be Manbij — a former bastion of IS that is now under the control of the SDF.