Syrian Army Troops, Allied Forces Advancing toward Palmyra Citadel + VIDEO

Fri Mar 25, 2016 17:57:29

The Syrian army troops and Desert Falcons launched massive assault on the ancient citadel of Palmyra in Homs province on Friday.

According to battlefield sources, pro-government forces consolidated their grip on a height some 650 yards near the citadel.

"Vanguards have been approaching the site via several fronts, with mortar detachments providing them with cover, but air support and heavy artillery are not being used in the operation," the source said.

The Syrian army in cooperation with the National Defence Forces (NDF), Hezbollah fighters and Syrian and Russian air forces have purged the ISIS Takfiri terrorists from 110 square kilometers of lands near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Eastern parts of Homs province in the past 48 hours.

A few hours ago, the Syrian army and its allies won control over a key hill in Eastern Homs province.

"The Syrian army and NDF continued pounding ISIS positions near Palmyra, and established full control over Syriatel hill near Palmyra Castle," an army source said.

Battlefield reports from Homs province said terrorists have sustained heavy casualties in the Syrian army and popular forces' continued and large-scale operations against ISIS's concentration centers on Friday.

Meantime, the Russian Defense Ministry said the country's bombers hit 146 terrorist targets around Palmyra from March 20 to March 23, and killed more than 300 terrorists during the operations.

"From March 20 to March 23 Russian Air and Space Forces conducted 41 sorties around Palmyra, Homs province, hitting 146 military terrorist targets. Six command centers, 320 terrorists, five tanks, six artillery systems, two ammunition depots and 15 vehicles were destroyed," defence ministry said.

The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have kept on marching on militant-held regions in Eastern Homs province in recent days to capture the strategic city of Palmyra which has been under the control of the ISIS since May 2015.

The pro-government forces imposed full control over the Western slopes of Jabal (Mount) Al-Tar after a violent battle with the ISIS terrorists near Palmyra on Thursday.

According to a military source in Homs province, the Syrian Army forces and Hezbollah fighters broke ISIS’s defense lines on the Western slopes of Jabal al-Tar, forcing them to retreat to the Eastern parts of the strategic mountain-top, West of Palmyra. In addition to the liberation of the Western slopes of Jabal Al-Tar, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah also captured a fuel station in the Southwestern suburbs of Palmyra.

Meanwhile, Syrian army troops launched a night raid on the Western outskirts of Palmyra, targeting an ISIS strategic position in the area, a battlefield source said.

"The Syrian Army and Hezbollah started operation to capture Semiramis Hotel in Palmyra Suburb which is now an ISIS base," a source said.

Similar to the well-known Qatari Royal Villa, the Semiramis Hotel has been turned into a fortified military installation by ISIS, it is also used as the Takfiri terrorist group’s barracks.

If the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah succeed in liberating the Semiramis Hotel from the ISIS terrorists, they will be in a position to enter Palmyra for the first time since their large-scale retreat from this ancient city on May last year.

While the Syrian Armed Forces focus on the Semiramis Hotel, the Russian Air Force is pounding ISIS’s supply route between the city and the nearby town of Al-Sakhanah.

The Russian Air Force carried out more than two dozen airstrikes and the number is likely to skyrocket in the coming hours as the battle to liberate Palmyra intensifies.

The Takfiri terrorists of ISIS have blown up several ancient columns, temples and tower tombs in Palmyra in Syria.

The head of the UN cultural watchdog has branded the destruction by ISIS terrorists of ancient temple in Palmyra ruins as a "war crime".

"This destruction is a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity," UNESCO Chief Irina Bokova said in a statement, adding that the "perpetrators must be accountable for their actions".

"The art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, is a symbol of the complexity and wealth of the Syrian identity and history," she said.

"Daesh (ISIS) is killing people and destroying sites, but cannot silence history and will ultimately fail to erase this great culture from the memory of the world," she added; FNA reported.

S/SH 11

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