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US State Department Equivocal On Palmyra’s Imminent Liberation

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US Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner seemed indifferent to the imminent liberation of the ancient city of Palmyra by the Syrian army from the hands of Islamic State.

The Syrian army with the help of Russian military support is on the verge of taking back what is left of the historical city.

The US shows no enthusiasm that the “jewel in the desert” is about to be freed from ISIS.

palmyraRussia Today reports:

Backed by Russian warplanes, Syrian troops managed to enter the historic city on Thursday. Palmyra, or Tadmur, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been occupied by jihadists since last May.

Government forces have been making steady progress since launching a concerted offensive to retake the city, which, until its capture by jihadists, housed some of the world’s best-preserved monuments of antiquity. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants destroyed two of Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old temples after seizing the city last year.

Chief Of Antiquities

Chief Of Antiquities Khaled al-Asaad tortured and beheaded by ISIS, August 18 2015

The Syrian Army’s advance is also an important strategic victory, clearing a path toward another vital site – the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, where government forces are under siege by the extremists.

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Captured Syrian government soldiers were among 400 executed in Palmyra, May 2015

However, this latest victory of Syrian government forces was not met with enthusiasm in Washington. In fact, State Department spokesman Mark Toner could not immediately say whether the US considered Palmyra’s liberation a positive development or not, suggesting there was little difference between IS and the “regime” of President Bashar Assad.Palmyra

Less than 24 hours before the SAA’s major push, Toner was asked on Wednesday if the US would like to see “the regime retake Palmyra, or do you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s hands?” Daesh is a derogatory Arabic term for IS.

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Boy jihadis executing captured Syrian soldiers at the Roman Theatre

After talking about “alleged violations of the cessation of hostilities” by the “regime” and giving a non-answer, Toner was pressed to clarify his remarks.

No, I mean, look, I mean, broadly speaking, it’s not a great choice, an either/or, but – which is worse, Daesh or the regime – but we think Daesh is probably the greater evil in this case,” Toner replied.palmyra

The liberation of Palmyra is just latest victory in a string of successes the Syrian Army has achieved since Russia began its anti-terror campaign in September. Supported by Russian air power, Damascus has managed to force terrorists out of Latakia and the northern part of Aleppo, the country’s biggest city and commercial hub in pre-war times. Syrian forces have also largely mopped up Hama and Homs Provinces in central Syria.palmyra

 

Edmondo Burr

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