Palmyra was re-captured from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group this week, about two months after it fell back into its hands. RT correspondent Lizzie Phelan is at the scene, reporting on the aftermath of the operation.
The mountains surrounding the desert city are of strategic importance for controlling Palmyra and have seen some of the most intensive fighting in the past week. The area is now littered with whatever IS forces left behind when retreating northeast.
RT crew saw several tanks disabled by the pro-Damascus forces, some obliterated by anti-tank missiles. The armor was part of the defensive positions of IS, as evidenced by discarded rations, ammunition crates, and other supplies scattered around.
More gruesome are the bodies of IS fighters, which are yet to be recovered and buried. After days in the hot sun, they show unmistakable signs of decomposition, but one can still see that some of them were young boys barely in their teens. IS is notorious for recruiting and brainwashing children to fill their ranks.
The bullet wounds that killed IS fighters testify to the intensity of combat in the area, Phelan says. Apparently, the shooting was taking place at very short distances.
“We filmed some of the many dead ISIS bodies scattered throughout the mountains. We simply couldn’t film all of the dead bodies because there are many and they are scattered across a large area, so this is a fraction of what there is,” she said.
The retreating jihadists also set on fire oil and gas wells located in the mountains, and black plumes of smoke continue to rise in the sky, Phelan reported.