ISIS enters ancient city of Palmyra

ISIS captures the northern part of Palmyra town, threatening the ancient ruins

Photo by: Getty Images
Photo by: Getty Images

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The ISIS fighters have made gains in the northern entrance of town Palmyra, where ancient ruins have remained for two thousand years, AP reported.

ISIS has not reached the ruins yet, which is UNESCO’s world heritage site in the southwest of Palmyra.

ISIS attacks have started on central Homs province since Thursday, raising alarm both in Syria and abroad. ISIS is known for destroying all historical sites in neighboring Iraq.

"The site has already suffered four years of conflict, it suffered from looting and represents an irreplaceable treasure for the Syrian people and for the world,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement. “I appeal to all parties to protect Palmyra and make every effort to prevent its destruction,” she added.

Syria Direct reported that the Assad regime considers Palmyra to be the front line against ISIS operating in the eastern part of the country. The town has a strategic importance because of the nearby Shaer gas fields, which sustains the Syrian-controlled territory electrical grid. After the fall of Palmyra, ISIS will have direct access to Damascus and Homs via the highway.

Palmyra is one of the most famous world heritage sites in the Middle East, and before the civil war thousands of tourists came to see its Roman-era colonnades.

The London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday that at least 47 regime soldiers and 29 ISIS fighters were killed in the clashes for control of the ancient city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activist Bebares al-Talawy said, “The militants were clashing with government troops in the northern part of the town on Saturday and ISIS fighters have seized control of parts of the town.”

Al Talawy, who is near Palmyra, said the group took control of a government building and the water company. He said government forces still control the airport in the town's northeast.

Syrian officials claimed to have repelled ISIS fighters from the southern part of Palmyra.

TRTWorld and agencies