Over a year and a half after losing the ancient city of Palmyra to the Syrian military, ISIS is once again closing in on the city, just four kilometers away from the city limits after having taken over a key oil field just outside of the city.
ISIS took over Qasr al-Halabat today, just southwest of the city, along with some smaller towns. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 34 Syrian soldiers were killed in the fighting today, along with an unspecified number of ISIS fighters.
Palmyra, and the adjoining city of Tadmur, are of themselves not hugely important cities in Syria, but are strategically located in the nation’s south east. Control over the area has in the past allowed ISIS to control the southern half of Syria’s border with Iraq.
Palmyra is mostly an archaeological site at this point, though a lot of the ancient buildings have been badly damaged over the past year, with ISIS looting a lot of its antiquities. Another ISIS capture of the city could once again cement ISIS control over eastern Syria.