Islamic State fighters seized around a third of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday after fierce clashes with the military and allied combatants, a group monitoring the war said.
The city, known as Tadmur in Arabic, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and the violence has fueled fears Islamic State will destroy ancient ruins. The offshoot of al-Qaida advanced into the city over the weekend but had been repelled.
Syrian state television, citing a military source, said in a news flash
that armed forces had confronted "the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group" when it tried to enter a northern neighborhood of the city on Wednesday.
's 2,000-year-old monuments, which lie on the south-western fringe of the modern city, were put on UNESCO's World Heritage in danger list in 2013. Islamic State has destroyed antiquities and ancient monuments in Iraq
and is being targeted by US-led air strikes in both countries.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights said the enemy sides were shelling each other in Palmyra
and that the Syrian military
had carried out air strikes.
Pictures posted by Islamic State supporters on social media showed gunmen in what they described as the streets of Palmyra
, about 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Damascus
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