Return Palmyra: why Assad comes in the area of the ancient city

New offensive

Syrian Republican army with the support of the Russian air force went on the offensive on the territory controlled by the terrorist group “Islamic state” (banned in Russia) in the East of HOMS province. Intense fighting around the city of Palmyra began on 8 March. In less than a week, according to sources, the army was able to approach the city at seven kilometres and capture of two strategic heights near Palmyra. According to information of news Agency SANA, the attack continues along the lines of El Barat — Jebel Hayal, West of the town of Palmyra.

The troops of Assad’s army is advancing with the support of Russian aviation. Wednesday, March 9, Russian aircraft attacked in this area a massive blow on positions of the IG (banned in Russia), hitting several areas across the city. According to the Syrian Observatory for human rights, as a result of this attack killed dozens of militants of the terrorist organization.

In addition to planes, according to unconfirmed reports, the Syrian army is using Russian arms. On the photo of one of the members of the government squad captured 120mm mortar 2Б11. With its help, the Syrian military can conduct aimed fire at distances up to 7 km.

The ancient city of Palmyra was captured by the terrorist group in may 2015. As a result of prolonged fighting, many of the objects in the list of UNESCO world heritage, was severely damaged. Many of the artefacts that captured terrorists, were destroyed. In October 2015, IG (banned in Russia) was destroyed arc de Triomphe — a kind of calling card of the city, dated II century of our era.

Why Palmyra

According to the Deputy Director of the Institute for political and military analysis Aleksandr kramchikin, the direction of impact was not chosen randomly. “In the city are UNESCO sites — this adds a gain of symbolic value,” he explains. In addition, the expert points out, the lesson of any major settlement is an opportunity for further attack and weaken the enemy.

Capture of Palmyra will allow Assad’s forces to regain control over the Eastern part of HOMS province and to push back the enemy. In addition, the successful operation to capture the town to open the M20 motorway leading to the city of Deir ez-Zor, controlled by the Syrian government.

Another factor of choice in the petroleum and gas deposits, located near Palmyra, says researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Grigory Melamedov. “Before the war the Russian firm had in the region contracts and worked on the construction of pipelines and development of deposits”, — said the expert. In addition, according to Melamedov, the choice of direction is due to General over campaign against ISIS (banned in Russia). According to the expert, a terrorist organization surrounded. Come to the North Kurdish armed groups in the East, in Iraq conducting operations coalition headed by the USA. The offensive of government troops from the West is a logical step in this chain, concludes Melamedov.

The expert stressed that the important factor may be peace agreements. The Northern areas are very densely populated, there groups are literally side by side with each other. The chances to break the ceasefire and undermine all the diplomatic efforts of the high stresses Melamedov. But in the East of HOMS province on the contrary — the desert area and one opponent, IG (banned in Russia), here attacking actions now lead easier.

Declared on 27 February, the truce does not include groups deemed terrorist by the UN security Council, including the “Islamic state” and “Frente al-Nusra” (both organizations are banned in Russia). At the moment, according to the defense Ministry, “the cessation of hostilities is being respected”. On Saturday, March 12, the Russian military recorded ten violations of the truce. Most of the violations occurred in the province of Damascus, where the opposition groups had carried out artillery strikes on government forces. All, according to the defense Ministry, the truce agreement reached with 44 settlements, 42 groups have accepted the terms of the cessation of hostilities.