After more fighting in Syria, ISIS, the Islamic State, has gained control of historic Palmyra, an early UNESCO World Heritage site that features well-preserved Roman-era ruins such as temples, a theater and colonnades. The site dates back to the second millennium and is mentioned in the Hebrew bible. At one time, it was a prosperous city and crossroads for trade.
There are fears that ISIS will destroy the historic Palmyra site, as they have destroyed other World Heritage sites as they have moved through Syria. ISIS has chosen to destroy other antiquities and historic monuments as they travel through those types of areas after taking them over. Palmyra is also extremely valuable from a strategic viewpoint and will give ISIS an excellent location to conduct more strikes as they travel onward to Homs and Damascus. The Palmyra site is approximately 137 miles from Damascus.
ISIS Controls Much More than Historic Palmyra
This takeover of historic Palmyra is far from all the territory now claimed by ISIS. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human, they control over 50 percent of the territory in Syria since they have been fighting this civil war for the past four years.
However, it is the first time ISIS has managed to take a town right from President Bashar al-Assad’s army and its allied powers. Sources say that one hundred or more pro-government fighters were killed in the fighting so far. ISIS attacks on Palmyra are part of their attempt to travel westward and put pressure on al-Assad’s forces. In the past few days, ISIS also captured Ramadi, which is the capital of Anbar, the largest province in Iraq.Now, the new frontline is considered to be in Husaiba al-Sharqiya, with fighting already taking place there between the Sunni fighters that are pro-government and the militants and snipers.
US Led Forces to Bring Anti-Tanks Weapons, Air Strikes Against ISIS
In an attempt to help curb the travel of ISIS and the takeover of more territory, the US has plans to give anti-tank weapons to Iraqi troops in June to help them fight against the suicide bombings. Additionally, there have been US led air strikes that are part of a campaign to help destroy ISIS.
As ISIS has now taken over historic Palmyra, activities are likely to continue for both sides to take on the fight in this seemingly never ending feud. It is also hoped that the ISIS militants won’t destroy or deface the archeological wonders in historic Palmyra, as that would be a tragic end to a priceless piece of world history.