"The Syrian troops have returned to stability the situation near Palmyra with Russian air support. Repeated attacks by militants of the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) have been beaten back. At the moment the defense line lies in the area of the town of Tyas and Tyfor airbase. Russia provides assistance to the Syrian leadership in its preparations for a counterattack on Palmyra," he said.
Islamic State gangs attacked Palmyra last Friday, December 9. The militants tried to seize oil wells and an air base near the city. In the evening of Sunday, December 11, government troops had to leave the central part of the city.
The Syrian army retook Palmyra from the Islamic State on March 27 with assistance from Russia’s aerospace group. Russian sappers later helped clear the city and ancient monuments of mines and unexploded ordnance.
- 'Threat' to US-led coalition
The Syrian army’s small arms and damaged military hardware that could have fallen into the hands of militants in Palmyra pose no threat to the US-led coalition, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said earlier.
The Russian general thus commented on a statement by the commander of the international operation against the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) in Iraq and Syria, Lieutenant-General Steven Townsend who had said on Wednesday that the Islamic State could have seized the armor, small weapons, heavy armaments and, possibly, air defense means in Palmyra.
"An insignificant quantity of small arms and several pieces of damaged military hardware left by Syrian servicemen in Palmyra cannot pose any threat to the international coalition," the spokesman said.
"What should really bother General Townsend is the recent decision by the US Congress for the delivery of US man-portable air defense missile systems to Syrian militants in 2017. It is not difficult to understand in whose hands they will fall after their delivery to the Syrian territory. If someone beyond the Ocean hopes that this is a weapon of selective action and can be used only against the aircraft of one side, these are amateurish dreams," he said.
As the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman also said, the experience shows that "terrorist groupings can’t be tamed."
"Sooner or later, they bite off a hand of the giver. All this should concern General Townsend as a military professional," Konashenkov said.