Palmyra Syria – Reports coming out of Russian and Syrian media sources are indicating that Russian Special Forces have been seen joining in the fight to reclaim the strategically vital city of Palmyra from the Islamic State. Russian-led warplanes continue to pound the surrounding area of Palmyra on Monday as reinforcements from the Syria Arab Army flood into the southern city to push out Islamic State fighters in an attempt to stop what could turn into a bloody quagmire that the Assad regime and its Russian allies cannot afford.
Through sources on the ground, Syrian media out of Damascus is reporting that Russian Special Forces are playing a key role in destroying the latest ISIS offensive. Russian SOF have purportedly been actively engaging with ISIS opposition and directing Russian flown attack helicopters as well as warplanes via target designation in the Al-Amiriyah district to include the northwest mountain range of Jabal Tar as well as the Palmyra oil and gas refineries in the east. It is unclear whether the Russian Special Forces were already based at the Et Tifor airbase on the outskirts of the city or accompanied the tribal faction of the Syrian Arab Army(SAA) known as the ‘Qalamoun Shield’ out of Damascus. Elements of the SAA’s 11th and 18th Division along with the National Defense Force(NDF) and the ‘Shaheen Group’ or ‘Tiger Forces’ will join with the Qalamoun Shield to drive the some 4,000 Islamic State fighters out of the oil rich region of Palmyra and back into the desert. But where did ISIS gather such a force from?