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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Syria: airstrikes hit ISIS positions in the city of Palmyra

The ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, currently under ISIS control
(Image: The Guardian)
Russian warplanes backing government of Bashar Al-Asad in Syria have launched heavy airstrike aimed at the targets and positions of ISIS in the ancient city of Palmyra, that was captured by the extremist jihadist group last May. The strikes have been reportedly launched on Wednesday and Thursday, 9 and 10 March respectively. These airstrikes may be the beginning of the attempts of Syrian Asad's government forces to recapture the city and the neighboring territories.

Dozens of ISIS fighters have been reportedly killed during the two raids in the city of Palmyra and many more were wounded, according to the reports of the monitoring group of Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

These attacks have added the pressure on the militant group that is losing its control over its territories since the beginning of the separate US-led military campaign and the governmental campaign against the group backed by Russian Federation.

As for the ISIS recent tactics in the fight, it appear to concentrate mainly on the separate suicide bombings and missions in the Syrian cities, such as the recent attacks in Damascus, Aleppo and Homs.

Military operations against ISIS have continued despite the ceasefire agreement between the Syrian forces reached recently and implemented end of February with the mediation of USA and Russia. The ceasefire applies to the Syrian governmental forces, Syrian rebel forces, Kurdish militants and allied armed forces as well, but it does not apply to ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, so the fight against the militant group continues.

According to the Observatory for Human Rights in Syria Russian warplanes have carried out nearly 150 airstrikes in the area of the city of Palmyra on Wednesday and the new attacks followed on Thursday as well. If ISIS will lose control over the city of Palmyra and the neighboring territories including the city of Qarayatain, it would reduce ISIS hold of Syrian territory to about 20%.

However, despite the fierce fighting and numerous heavy airstrikes against the militants in the area, ISIS appears to be still well entrenched in Palmyra. The group still remains powerful despite the recent reports regarding the death of one of its highest commanders, Abu Omar Al-Shishani, who was reportedly killed during the US raids earlier this week. Meanwhile, ISIS finances and supplies are currently under strain, with the payments for the fighters cut nearly by half.

Recent military operations of ISIS in the region were concentrated on the suicide missions in Homs and Damascus and on the unsuccessful attempt to cut the supply road of the government forces near Aleppo.