Erbil, Kurdistan Region – On Wednesday, militant fighters of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) launched a major offensive on the outskirts of the Sikhna city, northeast of the historic city of Palmyra, central Syria.
Speaking to ARA News, civil rights activist Bassam al-Dairi said that fierce battles broke out Wednesday between the IS group and the pro-regime forces, during which the group controlled al-Thinayya checkpoint at the northern entrance of the Sikhna city.
The source pointed out that the IS group was able to advance into major parts of the city and clashed with Assad army near Sikhna’s police station, headquarters of the Baath Party and the National Hospital.
“Dozens of the regime’s army and the allied militia forces (mainly the National Defense) were reportedly killed and dozens others wounded,” he added, pointing out that a state of panic spread among civilians in the historic city of Palmyra.
“The IS hardline group announced Wednesday evening taking a full control of Sikhna city and advanced in the suburbs of Palmyra,” al-Dairi told ARA News, quoting military sources.
Pro-IS sources confirmed that the battles reached the outskirts of Palmyra city, saying that fierce clashes broke out in the vicinity of Amiriya area, north of Palmyra, and ended with the militants control. This coincided with a mass displacement among civilians for fear of shelling by the pro-Assad forces and possible atrocities by the IS group.
In the meantime, further clashes broke out in the vicinity of the pro-Assad security center of Hajjana and the officers’ housing in eastern Palmyra, during which the group was able to control several checkpoints, after targeting them with missiles.
The Sikhna city in the Syrian Desert is about 70 km from the ancient city of Palmyra. The group’s advance in the area raised concerns about possible attacks by the group on archeological monuments in the area.
Reporting by: Sarbaz Yousef
Source: ARA News
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