ISIS allegedly seized the ancient village of Palmyra on Wednesday as the Syrian government troops withdrew from the region after fierce fighting with the militants.
The ISIS group and Syrian regime soldiers have been fighting since last week on the outskirts of the inner Syrian city of Tadmur where a 2,000 years old antique town of Palmyra, added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1980, is located.
Rami Abdel Rahman from the London-based watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “ISIS has taken control of almost all of Palmyra” following the Syrian regime troops’ withdrawal from nearly all sectors, except for a prison in the east and military intelligence headquarters in the west.
The ISIS’ advancement into Syria from northwest to south indicated that the Al Qaeda offshoot has taken control of a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces for the first time.
"Praise God, [Palmyra] has been liberated," said an ISIS militant on Internet by clarifying that the militant group has gained the control of a hospital which was previously used by a military base by the Syrian government forces.
Tadmur has a significant and strategic location in the middle of Syria and links the capital Damascus with the northeastern part of the county where the ISIS militants have been operating since the last year onwards.
Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdul Karim called the US-led coalition forces to save Palmyra’s ancient ruins and monuments from the militants’ destruction that is very likely since the group has already destroyed similar archaeological sites and museums in Iraq.
“Regime forces were seen carrying a number of monumental artifacts while withdrawing from a security point in the southern part of the city,” Khaled al-Homsi, a member of Tadmur’s media coordination team told reporters.
Previously, the ISIS militants had smashed the ruins of Assyrian city of Nimrud and artifacts in the Mosul Museum earlier this year, a move that sparked the outrage of international community.