After weeks of heavy fighting, Syrian state media announced that as of Sunday morning they have full control over the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, which had been held by ISIS since May of last year.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the report, saying ISIS fighters had moved east into the outskirts of the city, marking it as the biggest defeat for the group within Syria since its declaration of a caliphate in 2014.
Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and also valuable for its location near some major highways connecting Syria with the Anbar Province of Iraq, an area of major focus for ISIS on the other side of the border.
Much as with the Iraqi government’s prediction of a quick rout of ISIS out of remaining territories after they took back / destroyed Ramadi, Syrian officials are hyping the victory as a sign of a dramatic momentum shift, and are predicting major additional ISIS losses in the coming days.
That may be premature, as ISIS retains much more important territory in northern Syria, around their de facto capital of Raqqa, and despite repeated predictions of an offensive the Kurdish YPG, the force closest to Raqqa, doesn’t seem to be threatening the city in any real way.