Syrian government forces drove Islamic State out of Palmyra Sunday, inflicting what the army called a mortal blow to the militants who seized the city last year and dynamited its ancient temples. Nathan Frandino reports.
The Syrian government says it now controls the ancient city of Palmyra. An army spokesman says the city was recaptured from Islamic State on Sunday, with the help of Russian air strikes. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED SYRIAN ARMY SPOKESMAN, SAYING: "Security and stability returned to Palmyra city and the army has control on the mounts and hills surrounding the city and killed large numbers of IS terrorists and destroyed their equipment." Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Kremlin. Assad, appearing with visiting French Parliamentarians, called the victory another indication of the success of its strategy against terrorism. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were still some clashes on the city's eastern edge, but the bulk of IS forces had withdrawn. IS captured the city last year, prompting major concerns about the well being of Palmyra's historical artifacts and monuments. With the city now in government hands, the army plans to pursue IS deeper into the provinces of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor.