Dozens dead in fighting for Syria’s Palmyra

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Dozens dead in fighting for Syria’s Palmyra

At least 23 regime loyalists and 29 militants were killed as Daesh overran northern neighbourhoods of the adjacent modern town of Tadmur late on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 17 May 2015, 3:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:14 PM

A file picture shows a Syrian policeman standing on the sanctury of Baal in the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, 215 kilometres northeast of Damascus..- AFP

A file picture shows a Syrian policeman standing on the sanctury of Baal in the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, 215 kilometres northeast of Damascus.- AFP

Beirut:Syrian government troops and militia put up fierce resistance on Sunday to a Daesh group assault on one of the jewels of the country’s heritage, ancient Palmyra.

At least 23 regime loyalists and 29 militants were killed as Daesh overran northern neighbourhoods of the adjacent modern town of Tadmur late on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based watchdog reported heavy artillery exchanges in the west of the town, close to the UNESCO-listed world heritage site.

But Syrian antiquities chief Mamoun Abdulkarim said clashes had subsided by mid-morning as troops pushed Daesh out of the northern part of the adjacent modern town of Tadmur.

“We have good news today, we feel much better,” he told AFP by phone, saying he was in contact with staff in Palmyra every half an hour.

“There was no damage to the ruins, but this does not mean we should not be afraid,” Abdulkarim added.

Daesh had brought up reinforcements from its stronghold in the Euphrates Valley to the east after sustaining heavy losses in its advance on the oasis town northeast of Damascus, provincial governor Talal Barazi told AFP.

The town’s peacetime population of 70,000 has been swamped by an influx of civilians fleeing the IS advance.

“We are taking all necessary precautions, and we are working on securing humanitarian aid quickly in fear of mass fleeing from the city,” Barazi said.

Abdulkarim voiced extreme concern for the ancient site and its adjacent museum, in light of the destruction wreaked by Daesh on sites like Nimrud and Hatra in neighbouring Iraq.

The antiquities chief said he had been “living in a state of terror” that Daesh would destroy Palmyra’s well-preserved architecture.

 



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