MESOP : WHO DESTROYED PALMYRA ? – Video showed Russian and regime rockets and shelling of Palmyra Castle yesterday / Pro-Assad Forces Enter Islamic State-Held Palmyra

March 26 – by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – After weeks of attacks enabled by Russian airstrikes, pro-Assad forces entered Islamic State-held Palmyra in central Syria on Friday.The Syrian military and Hezbollah reportedly captured Palmyra Castle in the west of the Roman-era city. Fighting continued through the day, with Assad and ISIS supporters each claiming the upper hand.Pro-regime accounts also asserted that the pro-Assad troops entered Palmyra through the southern gate, advancing on the city’s prison.

They said that the forces were trying to claim the airport, and that territory to the north was also taken.Palmyra, a renowned stop for travelers on the Silk Road, was taken by the Islamic State after a rapid offensive through eastern Homs Province in May 2015. They executed regime soldiers; destroyed part of the Roman architecture, including shrines, arches, and columns; and beheaded and displayed the body of the renowned antiquities scholar Khaled al-Asaad.

The Assad forces had been unable to advance on the city until Russia intervened with scores of airstrikes and Hezbollah sent units. Iran’s Republican Guards have also put in commanders, according to pro-regime outlets.The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that its warplanes carried out 41 sorties from Tuesday to Thursday and destroyed 146 targets. Video showed Russian and regime rockets and shelling of Palmyra Castle yesterday. Moscow has also said that one of its special forces was killed, indicating an involvement in the ground assault.