Once again, Daesh has seized Palmyra following a surprise attack in the period 9 - 12 December 2016.

The “High Representative” of the “Syrian Opposition”, Riad Hijab, has denounced the forces of the Syrian “regime” who pounce on “unarmed civilians” at Aleppo but “jump ship like rats when confronted by the jihadists of the Islamic State at Palmyra.” The reality is a very different story.

In a synchronized [manoeuvre], 5,000 jihadists arrived at Rakka and Mosul to catch in a vice, the thousands of Syrian soldiers defending the city. The Syrian Arab Army had barely enough time to evacuate the civilians and to destroy its arsenal before retreating.

The United States has pushed Daesh to invade the Sunni part of Iraq in June 2014, in order to cut land communications between Tehran and Damascus, the final stage in the “Silk Route”. Once Mosul (Iraq) has been taken, Daesh moved on to Palmyra (Syria) in May 2015. Its troops had then crossed the border under the watch of the US forces who had not intervened and had not even sounded an alert. However, the town had been liberated in March 2016.

So that Daesh might occupy Palmyra once again, the US forces [took two measures] at the same time: [first] they opened a route towards the Syrian desert from Mosul—that they were supposed to encircle —; and [second] they stopped their bombings of the province of Rakha.

Assembled at Aleppo, the Syrian Arab Army has not had the time to send reinforcements to Palmyra which quickly fell confronted by assailants that are five times superior in number.

Anoosha Boralessa