In a remarkable coup, ISIS managed to wrestle the legendary city of Palmyra from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on Sunday after assembling a massive jihadist fighting force in eastern Homs.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 Islamic State insurgents poured into Palmyra from several flanks, prompting the SAA to withdraw to more defensible positions west of the ancient city after initially fending off several assaults.

Stationed on the Palmyra front were approximately 1,000 SAA soldiers, including contingents of the National Defence Forces (NDF), the 11th Division, elements of the 18th Division along with the Shaheen Group (Tiger Forces branch).

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Facing overwhelming ISIS numbers and an imminent threat of encirclement, these government forces found themselves forced to regroup on the western outskirts of the city.

In addition to capturing Palmyra city itself, the Islamic State also seized Palmyra Airbase, the Hayyan gas field, Al-Dawa village, and the Al-Bayarat area following other territorial gains over the past 48 hours.

Recently, the SAA deployed the bulk of its elite factions in the battle for Aleppo; in the meantime, thousands of ISIS fighters crossed the border from Iraq, narrowly escaping the battle for Mosul in order to spearhead the ongoing Palmyra offensive.

Effectively, with manpower utterly disproportionate between the warring parties, local SAA commanders had to choose between a full-scale tactical retreat or leaving outnumbered government troops to be slaughtered by the rapidly advancing jihadist militants. To little surprise, the SAA’s Palmyra command center opted for the former option.

Palmyra was otherwise liberated by the SAA in late March 2016 and strategically represented an important government salient which could have been utilized to relieve besieged government soldiers in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

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A larger version of the map can be found here.

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Student currently living in Denmark. Special focus on news from Syria, MENA map-making and strategical military analysis.

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19 COMMENTS

      • Regardless of your negative points, you are very right and it’s exactly the current situation there in Syria. Russia looks super ingenious and very incompetent with the current situation so shameful with the fall of Aleppo coldly calculated and planned by the Americans creators and strategists of ISIS.
        Meanwhile the Russians go from talk to talk, giving away unilateral truces one after another to please the Americans while they stab them in the back again and again.

      • USA is also helping Syrian govt on two points : bombing Daesh in Syria and giving serious intel to Syrian govt…
        It all depends on which part of USA you consider, hehehehe!
        http://henrymakow.com/upload_images/protest2.jpg
        I think it’s clear, isn’t it?
        Things are much more complicated than many seem to think 😉
        Listen to what Boris Johnson said while thinking he wasn’t filmed/recorded :
        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-saudi-arabia-proxy-wars-twisting-abusing-islam-a7462516.html
        😀

          • He’s far to be the only one : it goes up to many colonels and generals, actually, there’s also turmoil inside of the CIA. Just think about 2 A-10 managed to sabotage the ceasefire Kerry took weeks to negotiate with Lavrov. These things have even found their way into senate, thanks to Tulsi Gabbard which is an army veteran.

    • More realist than our paranoid friend : 3 days ago, there were sandstorms. Even sats can’t see through a sandstorm.
      It also seems that the coalition just destroyed 168 oil trucks parked in the desert near Palmyra area.
      We may assume that all these roaches were transported by these empty oil-trucks (????) : 30 roaches per oil truck => about 5k in total…
      Sucks these idiots @CJTFOIR always mask the HUD-markings : you can’t see the GPS coordinates, GRRRR. They just pointed ‘Central Syria’, now, I’ve found the explosions being VERY small for filled oil trucks so I assume these tucks were empty. The ex-missile base NW Palmyra is very likely to have serious underground facilities under the mountain but I didn’t managed to learn more from OSINT, thus, with about 130 SAM-sites, it’s very likely there is some kind of mini-NORAD under the mountain with a former centralized air-defences HQ for the whole country : I don’t see any other interest of having 130 SAM-sites if not to protect some serious asset, especially in the middle of a desert near a not so huge town!

      • @Daeshbags. Interesting insights & approach. I looked at it with a different starting point after I found at Wall Street Journal “Militants are bracing to make a stand in Deir Ezzour as U.S.-led coalition tries to retake Mosul and Raqqa” (You can read their full articles for free when Google search sends You, I send a quote from the appetizers I find in the net to Google and follow the Google link back to WSJ). In a nutshell. Deir Ezzour has oil, food and people so it can potentially be for a longer war more essential then Raqqa or Mosul. The same can IMHO be said about Palmyra that is part of the same general area. A defensive force of only 1000 and the old military facilities You mention may make it a possibly better choice then the WSJ’s candidate. p.s. So our paranoid friends have found a grain of truth. The “US & friends'” offensives on Mosul and Raqqa goad IS to more activity in the contested dessert oil regions of Syria. Especially while the Raqqa advance was paused so that IS could spare resources.

  1. Other sources say that its expected that Daesh will also launch a full scale attack on the T4 base in the very near future. SAA should make sure that they move out all not neaded supplies and ecuipment before that happens.

  2. Knew this was going to happen. That the government cannot do anything without its tiger forces and desert hawks, is a big big problem. They’ll take it back again, but at what cost this time? And then what, there will be the 5th and 6th and 7th battle of Palmyra because we have newly formed 4th and 5th Corps and tons of foreigners and militias and the Russians are with us, but it all amounts to nothing because there is no concept of tunnels, minefields, well dug in fortified trenches and positions, ATGM teams for VBIEDS, and good intel?

  3. Clearly the ISIS who were allowed to leave Mosul by the Western door, (see Iraqi news) have reorganised to attack Syrian forces. Just what the americans wanted. But it is only a blip in proceedings. Alepp will fall soon and syrian toops a=can be reorganised.