The Syrian army says it has fully liberated Palmyra from the grip of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, marking the second recapture of the ancient city.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Syrian army announced that the government forces were in control of Palmyra after a series of military operations and with the help of Russia’s air cover as well as "allied and friendly troops.”
The announcement came after the Kremlin said the Syrian military, backed by Russian aircraft, had managed to fully retake the city.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin of the completion of the Palmyra operation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.
Additionally, Russian lawmaker Andrey Krasov said the Daesh flag had been removed from the historic oasis city, adding, “It should be viewed as a joint success of the Russian Air Force and the Syrian military. Shortly, the whole territory of Syria will be liberated from the terrorists.”
Meanwhile, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which is sympathetic with foreign-backed militants, said Daesh terrorists had completely retreated from Palmyra.
Daesh "has fully withdrawn from Palmyra, but the Syrian army is still clearing neighborhoods of mines and has not spread out into the whole city yet," said SOHR Director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Earlier on Thursday, Syria’s official SANA news agency said army units had established control over the Palmyra Citadel, the Communications Hill and the Dedeman Palmyra after inflicting heavy losses on Daesh terrorists.
Daesh first seized Palmyra, also known in Arabic as Tadmur, in May 2015 and began looting and demolishing the UNESCO world heritage site's monuments and temples.
The Syrian army purged the Takfiri elements from the 2,000-year-old city in March 2016.
However, Daesh recaptured Palmyra once again in December 2016 after days of intense fighting as the Syrian military focused mainly on defeating terrorists in eastern Aleppo.
Syrian government forces have recently made sweeping gains against Takfiri terrorists, who have increased their acts of violence across the Arab country following a series of defeats in Aleppo and elsewhere.
The Palmyra battle comes at a critical time when negotiations are underway between Syria’s warring sides in the Swiss city of Geneva aimed at finding a solution to the foreign-sponsored crisis gripping the Arab country since 2011.
HNC 'sabotaging' Syria peace talks
Separately on Thursday, Russia accused the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Syria's main opposition group, of disrupting the Geneva talks.
"The results of the first days of the intra-Syrian dialogues, as before, raise questions over the ability of the Syrian opposition representatives to reach a deal," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.
HNC's refusal to cooperate on an equal footing with two Russian-backed opposition groups meant that it was "de facto sabotaging the full dialogue with both the Syrian government delegation and with other opposition groups," she added.