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Liberation of Palmyra as a sign of inevitable defeat of ISIS

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Liberation of Palmyra as a sign of inevitable defeat of ISIS
On 27 March the Syrian Army backed by the Russian Air Force liberated Palmyra from ISIS terrorists. It is not just a symbolic victory.

The liberation of Palmyra is compelling proof the Syrian Army has turned the tide in the war against terrorism. It has gained the strategic initiative. All of it helps create a safe haven the size of the entire Syrian territory. Palmyra, which is located in central Syria, is also an important strategic area providing linchpins for offensives against the terrorists in other directions.

Russia has contributed to the battle for Palmyra, including by delivering air strikes at terrorist targets. The Russian Air Force carried out 500 sorties.

Over 2,000 targets were struck, including armor and artillery, plus fleeing groups of terrorists. The terrorists who were trying to break through to Palmyra from Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor were also eliminated. The Russian Air Force used only precision-guided weapons. The historical monuments were not damaged by the airstrikes.

A huge amount of work has been done to strengthen Syria’s armed forces, which are now capable of not only holding back the terrorists, but also of conducting offensive operations against them. Russia will continue to provide assistance to Syria, but the Syrians must complete the liberation of their country from extremists and terrorists by themselves.

It is very important that military success in the fight against terrorism offers practical opportunities for a political settlement of the Syrian conflict. We hope that representatives of the Syrian Government and the opposition groups, including the Kurds, will work effectively at the UN-sponsored Geneva talks towards nationwide consensus based on the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June, 2012 and decisions of the International Syria Support Group. The Syrians are to decide their future.

The recent acts of terror in Brussels also proved again that there is no alternative to a genuine worldwide cooperation in the fight against international terrorism. While pushing for a political process in Syria, we, thus, should not forget to continue our offensive against terrorists in the Middle East coupled with efforts at a national level. Time and space count, we must force the terrorists to run out of both.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.