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Syrian Troops Take Back Palmyra From IS

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Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes have regained full control of the famed ancient city of Palmyra which fell to Islamic State in 2015, it is claimed.

Palmyra's reported recapture by President Bashar al Assad's troops marks the biggest reversal for IS since Moscow's intervention in the five-year conflict.

"After heavy fighting during the night, the army is in full control of Palmyra - both the ancient site and the residential neighbourhoods," a military source said.

He added: "Army sappers are in the process of defusing dozens of bombs and mines planted inside the ancient site."

State media and an opposition monitoring group also said Syrian forces had retaken the city, which is known as the "bride of the desert".

It is home to Roman-era ruins and used to attract tens of thousands of tourists every year.

After taking Palmyra over last May, IS demolished some of the best-known monuments at the UNESCO world heritage site.

It blew up two of the site's treasured classical temples, its triumphal arch and a dozen tower tombs.

IS used Palmyra's ancient amphitheatre as a venue for public executions, including the beheading of the city's 82-year-old former antiquities chief.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there was still gunfire in the eastern part of the city on Sunday morning.

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