Moscow, SANA- Russian General Staff said that reports affirm that ISIS terrorist organization planted mines and explosive devices in an area more than 180 hectares in Palmyra before most of their members were killed while others fled deep into the desert (Badiya) under the Syrian army’s strikes.
Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff said in a statement published by RT Russian website “Approximately 180 hectares (about 445 acres) of Palmyra’s historical and residential districts need to be cleared of landmines and explosives.”
Rudskoy pointed out that the mine-clearing effort is complicated, noting that the first team of Russian demining experts arrived in Syria to take part in dismantling mines in the archeological city and the residential neighborhoods.
Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy explained that the mine-clearing effort is complicated by the fact that along with standard military-grade landmines, ISIS militants used numerous improvised explosive devices to booby-trap Palmyra. Therefore, Russian-made Uran-2 specialized sapper robots will be employed to clear out the most problematic areas.
According to Rudskoy, the liberation of Palmyra has a strategic importance due its location in the central part of Syria where roads from Palmyra go to Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor, as well as to the oil and gas fields in the surrounding areas.
“The liberation of Palmyra will hamper the terrorists’ capabilities, redeployment and transfer between the northern and southern regions of Syria,” Rudskoi said.
“The loss of control over territories rich in natural resources will negatively affect the terrorists’ economic and financial situation, and hamper their ability to buy weapons, munitions and equipment,” Rudsko added.
Rudskoi pointed out that military advisors took part directly in liberating Palmyra, noting that on March 7- 27 Russia’s Aerospace Forces flew about 500 sorties in near Palmyra to launch more than 2,000 air strikes against ISIS terrorists, destroying their supporting centers and launchers.
“ The attacks in the first place wiped out the main strongholds and artillery positions on all commanding heights,” he explained, adding “ In Palmyra’s suburb at the beginning of March there were over 4000 terrorists, no less than 25 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, over 20 units of standard and rocket artillery, over 40 mortars, about 100 anti-tank guided missiles and more than 50 armored vehicles, in addition to that, the terrorist had over 100 trucks converted into car bombs and UAVs,” Rudskoy said.
“None of Palmyra’s cultural treasures were damaged due to Russian airstrikes against ISIS targets, Rudskoy emphasized. “ During the entire operation, planes from the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out airstrikes exclusively against known terrorist facilities.” “I would like to emphasize that none of Palmyra’s cultural treasures were damaged as a result of Russian Aerospace Forces operations”.
On Sunday, units of the army in cooperation with popular defense groups restored security and stability to Palmyra and established control over the archeological city and the airport after fierce fighting during which ISIS terrorist organization suffered heavy losses in personnel and munitions.