The recent attack by Islamic State militants on Palmyra amidst the break in the United States-led coalition’s advance against rebel groups is an indication that terrorists must not be given any chance to regroup, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Seizing on the suspension of active military action near Al-Raqqah till spring by the US and international coalition, Islamic State devoted considerable forces to storm Palmyra,” the ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Monday.
The militants launched the attack while also knowing that Russian will not conduct airstrikes in residential area, and they “used that to reinforce their attacks, the ministry said.
The ministry also said that the 4,000 terrorists who launched that attack arrived “unhampered” in Deir ez-Zor and Al-Raqqah in Syria from Mosul in Iraq. They moved in Palmyra in tanks and armoured vehicles, the ministry said.
According to Konashenkov, jihadists have attacked Syrian forces near Palmyra several times over the past couple of days from the north, east and south.
In the night, IS fighters deployed cars filled with explosives and suicide-bombers to attack the Syrian army’s defense. They also managed to dig in Palmyra’s outskirts, the Russian ministry said in a statement.
“More than 5,000 militants in total took part in the offensive,” Konashenkov said, stressing that there had not been so many IS fighters near Palmyra until last Thursday.
“It is obvious that the terrorists concentrated near Palmyra were sure that the military action [against them] in Al-Raqqah would not renew,” he said, while observing the situation in Palmyra shows that no “break” should be ever given to IS fighters, as they “use it to regroup and strike unexpectedly.”
The latest terrorist attack was “orchestrated” to distract government forces who are attacking militants in eastern Aleppo. The militants are entrenched in the city and are threatening civilians, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.