Hundreds of Syrians escape Palmyra after ISIS returns

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ISIS militants destroying ancient artifacts in Syria's Palmyra. File photo

ARA News

Homs – More than 300 civilians escaped from Palmyra, after the Islamic State (ISIS) conquered the ancient Syrian city last week.

“The people of Palmyra are afraid of being used as human shields by ISIS,” local media activist Abas al-Omar told ARA News. “Most of them headed to regime-held areas in Homs Governorate.”

The civilian exodus passed through more than 70 km of the barren desert to reach areas still controlled by the Syrian Army.

It is unlikely that Palmyra’s remaining residents will be able to flee. ISIS jihadists have since arrested four men in Palmyra, accusing them of smuggling people out of the city.

Last Sunday, ISIS jihadists recaptured Palmyra. Activists and military sources confirmed the rout, reporting that the army had been forced to withdraw under fire.

Russia had supported the Syrian Army in Palmyra, with airstrikes and logistical support but their efforts were apparently insufficient to save the city.

ISIS first took over Palmyra in May 2015, following a protracted battle with regime forces. The Islamic State’s occupation was exceptionally brutal, even by the standards of Syria’s 5-year-long conflict.

Reporting by: Raman Yusif | Source: ARA News

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