DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — The sources said that the commander, known as Abu Hamid al-Sukhni, had reportedly personally given orders to destroy UNESCO ancient sites in 2015.
On March 2, the Syrian government forces regained control over Palmyra with the support of the Russian aircraft operating in Syria. The operation was carried out with minimal losses among the anti-terrorist troops.
Less than a year after that the Syrian army supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces managed to liberate Palmyra. Russian specialists demined the historic center as well as residential areas of the city. Russian historians and renovators visited Palmyra in early July 2016 and prepared a report assessing the condition of the damaged sites and costs of the renovation works. However, in December 2016, the city was retaken by jihadists.
Since 2011, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition and terrorist groups, including al-Nusra Front and Daesh, banned in a range of countries, including Russia.
Moscow has been conducting a counter-terrorist campaign in Syria since September 30, 2015, at President Bashar Assad's request.