It has been almost two months since the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have advanced towards the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the vast desert landscape of east Homs; and since then, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has managed to recapture several points around the city and turn the Qatari Villa into a permanent military base.
However, this is expected to change in the coming weeks, as the Syrian Arab Army’s Central Command has ordered the soldiers stationed in east Homs to restart ground operations.
The last time around, the Syrian Arab Army’s 67th Brigade of the 18th Tank Division – in coordination with the Tiger Forces, Hezbollah, Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) – recaptured several sites in the Palmyra countryside, including the imperative hilltop of Tal Syriatel that overlooks the west district of Palmyra.
Unfortunately, the Syrian Armed Forces have since lost the hilltop at Tal Syriatel, the Palmyra Diving School, and the eastern groves of Al-Bayarat; this leaves them about 10km away from the Qassoun Mountains that overlook Palmyra’s west district.
The Syrian Armed Forces have a special weapon this time – the Russian Air Force is expected to lead the charge to Palmyra, giving the Syrian Arab Army’s infantry units a substantial boost against the sporadic ISIS forces that move freely through this desert terrain.
Another factor the Syrian Armed Forces have on their side is the weather: the summer months proved very difficult to maneuver in the desert, as the temperature greatly exceeded 35 degrees (Celsius) on a number of occasions; thus, requiring the Syrian Arab Army’s infantry units to fight not only ISIS, but also, the scorching desert heat.
Should the Syrian Armed Forces recapture Palmyra, they will be in position to strike the integral city of Sukhaneh that is situated along the main road that leads to the Deir Ezzor Governorate’s province capital.