The Syrian Arab Army and associated militias are re-taking Palmyra from IS

It was reported on the 23 March 2016 by Syrian and Western news outlets that the Syrian Arab Army and associated militias (allegedly including Hezbollah and IRGC forces) had reached the outskirts of Palmyra.

Interestingly the BBC News article describes the Syrian forces as ‘government forces’ and not ‘regime forces’, a subtle change to the language used by Western main stream media news outlets throughout the conflict.

The use of the term ‘regime forces’ has been intentionally used by western main stream news outlets to falsely depict and portray the Syrian Army, Navy and Airforce to be predominantly Alawite, the Shia religion of Assad and therefore it’s attacks on opposition groups being predominantly sectarian.

However, like the country before the conflict began, the Syrian Arab Army, Airforce and Navy is secular, made up of many differing religions including, Sunni, Shia, Druze and Christians, all fighting to stop the country becoming a fundamentalist Sunni Islamic State.

Yesterday (24 March 2016) it was reported by RT that:

‘Syrian troops managed to enter the historic city on Thursday’.

SANA News (Syrian news outlet) reported that:

‘Army operations concentrated on Thursday afternoon on gatherings of ISIS terrorists towards Palmyra citadel and Syriatel hill after advancing from the south western entrance of the city towards to the gas station.

Other army units advanced towards the warehouses from the north eastern direction after establishing control over al-Tar Mountain.’

This offensive to retake Palmyra and surrounding areas has been on-going for some time now with Assad government forces more recently making steady gains behind continued Russian airstrikes.

  • Youtube video RT report (28 Oct 2015) – Road to Palmyra: RT follows Syrian army assault on ISIS positions (EXCLUSIVE):

 

This is despite an on going narrative by Western main stream media news outlets that the Syrian government and Russian forces have allegedly neglected to attack IS and have overwhelmingly targeted Western deemed moderate groups.

The Syrian Arab Army and associated militias have fought IS on various fronts including Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Homs along with Syrian and Russian airstrikes in Raqqa. The Long War Journal article below highlights the conflict between Syrian government forces and IS around Palmyra since its initial loss to IS in 2015.

IS affiliated news agency Amaq has released statements and video reports of such conflict recently between the two sides including the latest in Palmyra.

  • Amaq News Agency article (21 Mar 2016) – Martyrdom Operation Kills Dozens of Syrian Regime Soldiers West of Palmyra in the Homs Countryside:

‘Homs – Amaq Agency: Today a martyrdom bomber attacked a gathering of 70 fighters belonging to the Alawite Maghawir al-Bahr unit, which is part of the Syrian regime troops in the Dawwah area, west of Palmyra city.

The martyrdom bomber was able to detonate his truck bomb in their midst, killing at least 30, among them the unit’s commander, Ali Rahmun Askar, and wounding the rest.

This comes against the backdrop of ongoing glowing battles west of Palmyra, where Syrian regime forces and Shiite militias attempt to advance towards the city with Russian air support, carrying out dozens of airstrikes daily on the front lines and the city’s neighborhoods.’

  • Amaq News Agency headline (23 Mar 2016):

‘Martyrdom operation hits Syrian regime troops in the industrial area of Deir Ezzor city.’

  • Amaq News Agency headline (24 Mar 2016):

‘Breaking | 3 four-wheel drive vehicles belonging to Syrian regime forces destroyed in the Dawwah area, west of Palmyra city, after targeting them with guided missiles.’

It is true to say that the Syrian Arab Army has been stretched for sometime fighting on multiple fronts, especially in the months and years before Russia intervened militarily and helped turn the tide of war back in its favor.

Because a cessation of hostilities is in place and largely holding, it allows Syrian forces (with the help of Russian, Iraqi, Iranian and Lebanese forces) to push on towards territory held by those not included such as IS, Jabhat al Nusrah and many other fundamentalist Sunni Islamic groups operating on the ground throughout Syria.

UPDATE: 26 March 2016:

The Syrian Arab Army and allied militias have allegedly captured more ground in Palmyra, pushing further into IS controlled areas. SANA news agency reported on the 26 March 2016 that:

‘The operations have resulted in establishing full control over the neighborhoods of al-Mutaqa’idin, al-Ameriyeh and al-Jamiyat al-Gharbiyeh in Tadmur city,  according to sources on the ground.’

‘During the past two days, the army seized the archaeological Palmyra castle, Wadi al-Qobor, al-Qosor Mountains, the Qatari palace and all hills surrounding the city.’

Alleged military units involved on the ground in the on-going assault against IS in Palmyra include the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces – backed by the Desert Hawks, Hezbollah, and the Syrian Marines.

  • Youtube video RT (25 Mar 2015) – Syria: Syrian Army closer to seizing full control of Palmyra – reports:

 

Heavy resistance by IS is reported as Syrian government forces make their way into Palmyra, a number of high ranking Syrian Army officers have allegedly been killed during on-going battles including General Shaban al-Awja, Commander of SAA 64 artillery brigade and General Ahmad Hamadah, Commander of SAA Brigade 137.

UPDATE: 27 March 2016:

SANA News Agency has reported today that Syrian General Command announce Palmyra city, surrounding hills and mountains are now under the control of the Syrian Arab Army and associated militias.

Including the re-capture of Palmyra, the road between Palmyra and Raqqa has also allegedly been cut completely. IS forces have reportedly retreated although some fighters may remain as a stall tactic to slow the progress of Syrian government and militia forces.

In keeping with this possibility, IS report an alleged double suicide attack against Syrian government forces in the Bayyarat area, west of Palmyra.

  • Amaq News Agency headline (27 Mar 2016):

‘Breaking | Double martyrdom operation hits Syrian regime forces in the Bayyarat area, west of Palmyra.’

Liwa al Fatemiyoun fighters have also reportedly assisted in the re-capture of Palmyra. This is a Shi’a militia of Afghan heritage allegedly backed by Iran who receive support with arms and training from the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps).

Liwa al Fatemiyoun

Liwa al Fatemiyoun 2

Liwa al Fatemiyoun 1

IS have allegedly carried out further suicide attacks near the Palmyra airbase and city center.

  • Amaq News Agency headline (27 Mar 2016):

‘Breaking | Martyrdom operation with a rigged vehicle destroys a convoy of Syrian regime forces and militias on the outskirts of Palmyra Airbase.’

  • Amaq News Agency headline (27 Mar 2016):

‘Breaking | 2 martyrdom operations hit gatherings of Syrian regime forces and militias in the city center of Palmyra.’

This may be a precursor to a counter attack by IS given wide spread media headlines that IS have lost Palmyra.

Given the divine image IS like to project, forming and expanding the true Islamic Caliphate, loosing Palmyra does not look good.

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