Sew La Ti Embroidery + [Syria]

Near East: Syrian forces repel ISIS advance on Palmyra
A human rights monitoring group says Islamic State forces have been pushed from northern Tadmur, a Syrian city containing the ancient ruins of Palmyra.

Syrian forces repel ISIS advance on Palmyra
Ancient Aramaic city of Palmyra in the Syrian desert. An Islamic State advance
 into the city of Tadmur, where the ruins are located, was reversed in the city's 
northern neighborhoods by Syrian regime forces on Sunday, according 
to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 
[Credit: Linda Marie Caldwell/UPI]

Bolstered by allied militias and airstrikes, the Syrian military pushed IS forces out of Tadmur's northern neighborhoods in a 24-hour period, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday, though the Sunni militants still hold a village north of the city.

Tadmur is adjacent to the ancient ruins of Palmyra, which comprises Roman temples and colonnades dating back over 2,000 years. UNESCO regards the ruins as a World Heritage Site.

The IS attack began Wednesday and was aimed at the cities of al-Sikhni and Tadmur. At least 295 people have been killed in the assault, including 123 regime troops and allied militiamen and 115 IS militants (including three "leading figures"), SOHR reports.

Fifty-seven civilians in and around the area were also killed, according to SOHR, a handful by airstrikes and shellfire and most by IS execution.

Aside from being near gas fields and a major airbase, Palmyra lies on the road between Deir al-Zour, the city of Homs and Syria's capital, Damascus.

The IS advance toward the ancient ruins has stoked anxiety stemming from the group's destruction of other archaeological sites under the charge of "idolatry," including the dismantling of 3,000-year-old artifacts at Iraq's Mosul Museum earlier this year. Officials say the group sells some artifacts on the black market to fund operations.

Meanwhile, advances by allied Islamic militants -- including al-Qaida's Nusra Front -- in Syria's northwest, near the Turkish border, have put forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the defensive. The Syrian military last month lost all of its major urban strongholds in Idlib province, which is seen as a stepping stone toward Latakia province in the west. Latakia is home to the country's Alawite community to which Assad belongs.

Author: Fred Lambert | Source: UPI [May 17, 2015]