ISIS militants took advantage of the break in the US-led coalition’s advance against them in Raqqa by attacking Palmyra, being sure that no airstrikes will be conducted by Russia.
IS fighters managed to reenter Palmyra after moving considerable forces from Raqqa after the US-led coalition stalled the offensive of Arab and Kurdish rebels. The Russian Defense Ministry made a statement saying that these actions have proven us that IS militants should not be given additional chances to regroup.
“Seizing on the suspension of active military action near Al-Raqqah till spring by the US and international coalition, Islamic State devoted considerable forces to storm Palmyra,” the ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Monday.
According to Konashenkov IS fighters were aware of the fact that Russian Air Force would not conduct airstrikes in Palmyra’s residential areas, and ‘’used that to reinforce their attacks’’
Intelligence data showed that after arriving in Deir ez-Zor and Al-Raqqah from Mosul, up to 5000 IS armed fighters have been moved there.
“More than 5,000 militants in total took part in the offensive,” Konashenkov said, stressing that there had not been so many IS fighters near Palmyra until last Thursday. “It is obvious that the terrorists concentrated near Palmyra were sure that the military action [against them] in Al-Raqqah would not renew,” he said, while observing the situation in Palmyra shows that no “break” should be ever given to IS fighters, as they “use it to regroup and strike unexpectedly.”
Even though, the city was liberated, the terrorists are again trying to attack it from the northern, eastern, and southern sides. Over the last week, they managed to capture several high grounds in proximity to Palmyra. According to Syria’s SANA news agency, their perceived goal is to capture al-Amiriyah town northeast of Palmyra and a nearby industrial area.
Written by Yoana for South Front