Syrian government forces recapture ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS

March 27, 2016 09:25

Syrian government forces have recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State, state media and a monitoring group reported Sunday morning.

Syrian government forces had been pushing deeper into the city in recent days, recapturing the hilltop citadel and the airbase after starting an offensive against the militant group days ago.

Fierce fighting between government forces and ISIS militants was reported Saturday in Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site known for its Roman-era ruins, with artillery fire ringing in the air and heavy smoke rising from many locations.

The hilltop citadel, which was built in the 13th century and overlooks the ancient ruins of Palmyra, has been hotly contested by Syrian government forces backed by Russian airstrikes and ISIS, which overran the town last May, and has blown up ancient temples and looted relics dating back thousands of years.

The recapture of the desert city would be one of the most prominent successes for President Bashar Assad since Russia launched a military intervention in September which has turned the tide of Syria's civil war.

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