Announcing the capture of the Palmyra Triangle, west of the city, Syrian officials announced this morning that they would be entering Palmyra imminently, trying to unseat ISIS from the ancient city. Reports since then indicate that the troops have done so, and fighting over the city has begun again.
ISIS has twice captured the ancient city of Palmyra over the course of the civil war, losing it early in 2016 only to recapture it in December. Syrian forces have been getting closer for awhile, but fighting elsewhere in the country has often forced the military’s priorities elsewhere.
ISIS confirmed the fighting, publishing photos on their social media account of ISIS fighters inside Palmyra firing rockets at the advancing Syrian troops. Indications, however, are that the Syrian forces have an advantage, and that ISIS is steadily being pushed back out of the city.
While Palmyra/Tadmur is primarily an archaeological city, control of the area is of some strategic value, both because of nearby gas fields and because of its location along a key highway running through western Syria. The highway is the primary route through Deir Ezzor Province, which is ISIS’s main remaining holding.