Underscoring their gains in the fighting against ISIS over Palmyra and the adjoining city of Tadmur, Syrian troops have recaptured the ancient citadel that overlooks the city’s ruins, a major gain in a city prized both as an historical landmark and as strategically important.
ISIS captured Palmyra in May of last year, destroying several important ruins in the area as sacrilegious. Control over Palmyra also gave them control over Tadmur, and by extension two major highways running through the area.
Russia has been backing the Syrian offensive meant to retake the city, but has also made it clear this is likely to be the last time they are so heavily involved in an offensive for awhile, as they hope that post-Palmyra the Syrian government will shift focus toward a peace deal.
The peace process is going slowly, but the ceasefire underpinning it is largely holding. The ceasefire does not include ISIS, and thus the Syrian military and rebels are both allowed to continue attacking them, carving out territory even as they negotiate a settlement.