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TIDE IS TURNING: ISIS kills 26 Syrian soldiers near Palmyra…maybe Russia should stay longer

ISIS fighters killed 26 Syrian soldiers on Monday west of Palmyra, a monitoring group said, after days of advances by government forces backed by Syrian and Russian air cover.


Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that the Syrian army would soon recapture Palmyra from ISIS, which has held the desert city for nearly a year.

Palmyra has both symbolic and military value as the site of ancient Roman-era ruins – mostly destroyed by the ultra-hard line Islamist group – and because of its location on a highway linking mainly government-held western Syria to ISIS’s eastern stronghold.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting took place about 4 kilometers (2 miles) west of Palmyra.

It was not possible to independently verify the death toll. Syria’s state news agency SANA said the army and allied forces, backed by the Syrian air force, carried out “concentrated operations” against ISIS around Palmyra and the ISIS-held town of al-Qaryatayn, about 100 km further west.

After more than five months of airstrikes in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Putin announced the withdrawal last week of most Russian forces.

But Russian planes have continued to support army operations near Palmyra, according to the Observatory and regional media, and Putin said on Thursday he hoped that the city would soon fall to the Syrian government.

“I hope that this pearl of world civilization, or at least what’s left of it after bandits have held sway there, will be returned to the Syrian people and the entire world,” he said.

In southern Syria, a militant group loyal to ISIS seized a village near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Monday from al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, the Observatory said.

It said the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade captured the village of Tasil, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Golan Heights


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