Syria army ‘to use Palmyra as launchpad’ against ISIL

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Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, battled the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group around Palmyra on Monday, after taking back control of the ancient city.

ISIL’s loss of Palmyra on Sunday amounts to one of the biggest setbacks for the group since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across large parts of Syria and Iraq.

The Syrian army said the city, home to some of the most extensive ruins of the Roman Empire, would become a “launchpad” for operations against ISIL strongholds in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor further east across a vast expanse of desert.

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