A member of a militia kneels as he celebrates victory next to a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by ISIS militants.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Russian military adviser was recently killed in battles with Islamic State fighters west of the ISIS-controlled city of Palmyra in Syria, the ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq announced Thursday afternoon.
The ancient city of Palmyra, whose Arabic name is Tadmur, was seized by ISIS in May 2015 after destroying its notorious prison, where Syrian political dissidents were imprisoned. After ISIS took over the city, an international outcry to save its ancient archeological sites began.
The ISIS announcement came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Monday that Russia will start withdrawing a main part of its forces in Syria.
In an interview Wednesday with Al-Jazeera TV, the leader of the largest Syrian opposition faction, Ahrar al-Sham, said: "The Russian announcement was surprising, and we need to understand whether Russia indeed intends to withdraw its forces from Syria, especially in light of the Russian statements that made clear that Russian forces will remain in the two Russian military in Tartus and Hmeymim."
"We are ready to negotiate with Russia on if it would force Assad's regime to accept the demands of the Syrian people," the Ahrar al-Sham leader added.
He also spoke of what he foresees as Assad’s fall, vowing that group will not persecute those who adhere to the same sect of Shi’ite Islam that the current president does.
"[W]e do not intend to take revenge on the Alawite population,” the opposition leader stated.