Over the past 48 hours, hundreds of civilians have returned to their homes in Palmyra after the Syrian Government gave the green light for residents to return. Thousands more are expected in the weeks to come.
Two weeks ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) managed to recapture the ancient city of Tadmur (Palmyra) after Russian jets pounded ISIS positions relentlessly in eastern Homs during a three-week government offensive.
However, prior to ISIS seizing the city in May of 2015, the city had a total population of some 70.000 residents. Once the Islamic State captured it, the populace was reduced to 15.000 as most fled to government-held areas in the west.
Now, Russian sappers and Syrian engineers are in the process of defusing ISIS bombs and mines in and around the historic city of Palmyra. Remarkably, over 3000 mines and improvised explosives have been removed over the past 12 weeks with no casualties reported.
Furthermore, the Syrian Government is currently organizing free buses for former residents of Palmyra to return to their hometown. Nevertheless, government troops must expand the buffer zone around Palmyra even more if they are to guarantee the security of local civilians.