Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 03 March 2017, 00:35 hrs, UTC, Post #129.
Correspondents: Zeina Karam and Dominique Soguel (Associated Press, Beirut).
Accessed on 03 March 2017, 00:35 hrs, UTC.
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Backed by Russian ground attack aircraft and heavy ground artillery, Syrian Army forces seized the historic city of Palmyra as Islamic State fighters fled the ruined city in the face of advancing Syrian troops.
The recapture of the historic city and its remaining Roman ruins marks another setback for ISIS/ISIL forces in the region. On 23 February 2017, Turkish-backed militia units captured the key Syrian town of al-Bab after a difficult three-month offensive. The twin victories for Syrian President Bashar Assad come as peace talks begin in Switzerland between Syrian government representatives and leaders of Syrian opposition forces.
Associated Press correspondents Zeina Karam and Dominique Soguel provide this intelligence assessment:
“The Damascus military statement said troops gained full control of the desert town in central Syria following a series of military operations carried out with the help of Russian air cover and in cooperation with “allied and friendly troops” – government shorthand for members of Lebanese militant Hezbollah group who are fighting along Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.”
“IS defenses around Palmyra had begun to erode on Sunday, with government troops reaching the town’s outskirts on Tuesday. The state SANA news agency reported earlier that government troops had entered the town’s archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, around mid-day, then the town itself, as IS militants fled the area.”
While the recapture of Palmyra is good news for the Assad regime and his Russian allies, the once booming tourist attraction is only a shadow of its former self. Jihadist fighters destroyed many “priceless Roman ruins” and used the stage of an ancient theater to behead traitors, deserters, and others who didn’t support the Islamic State. The Syrian Civil War continues, even as peace talks begin in Switzerland. President Assad faces another problem–Turkish-backed Kurdish militia units currently fighting ISIS/ISIL forces in Eastern Syrian don’t entirely support Assad or his Russian allies. If Islamic fighters are beaten, Assad will still face Kurdish units bent on his overthrow.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest