ISIS forces were seen on the defensive for months, increasingly falling back in the face of military offensives in both Iraq and Syria. They lost most of their northern holdings in Syria, and the bulk of their territory in Iraq. That doesn’t mean they’re totally incapable of launching offensives, however.
After taking significant territory in the surrounding area over the past week, ISIS has captured the ancient city of Palmyra, the second time they’ve taken the strategically important city in the course of the Syrian Civil War.
ISIS first took the city in 2014 and lost it the following year to Syrian troops. With Syria focusing its military power elsewhere, particularly in Aleppo, the defenses were quickly overrun by an ISIS advance, and ISIS took over the city with comparatively little resistance.
This both reflects ISIS moving increasingly into the southeast, away from the northern territory captured by Turkey. While Palmyra and the surrounding area is of limited value, apart from the nearby oil fields, the city does have some strategic value on highways between Iraq and Syria.
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