Syrian army recaptures Damascus-Palmyra highway, expelling ISIS with Russian support

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Pro-Assad military forces. File photo

ARA News

Syrian army forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on Friday recaptured the main road between the capital Damascus and the ancient city of Palmyra, officials said.

The Damascus-Palmyra highway has been under ISIS control since 2014.

“The highway is completely liberated from Daesh [ISIS] terrorists,” a Syrian army officer told ARA News, adding that immediately after the army recaptured the road, specialised teams were deployed to dismantle explosives and landmines left behind by Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants.

According to the official, the Russian Air Force has played a key role in the operation to retake the Damascus-Palmyra highway.

“The Russian air cover facilitated our advance on the ground,” he said.

“Retaking the highway was a major victory for our army in the war against terrorism in Syria,” he told ARA News.

This comes just one day after intensified clashes between the Syrian army forces and ISIS fighters in the vicinity of Palmyra.

ISIS first took over Palmyra in May 2015, following a protracted battle with regime forces. The Islamic State’s occupation was exceptionally brutal, even by the standards of Syria’s 6-year-long conflict.

On December 11, 2016, the ISIS hardline group recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs Governorate, after forcing the Syrian army to withdraw under heavy bombardment.

On March 2, 2017, the radical group withdrew from central Palmyra, heading to its eastern suburb, after heavy clashes with Syrian Army forces. The Russian airstrikes on ISIS positions helped the Syrian regime troops to advance against ISIS. Two days later the Syrian army claimed full control of the city.

Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi 

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