MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Syrian army continues to expand the security zone around the ancient city of Palmyra taking control over 230 square kilometers since the beginning of April, the Russian General Staff said Tuesday.
"In the Palmyra area, Syrian army units continue to expand the security zone around the city. As a result of the offensive by the Syrian armed forces, the rebels are retreating and leaving the dominant hills," chief of the Russian General Staff's Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said at a news briefing
"Since the beginning of the current month, more than 230 square kilometers of the territory have passed under the control of government troops," the general added.
Rudskoi noted that Russian sappers were taking part in the clearance of the city from mines and explosive objects.
"To date, 21 socially significant facilities have been cleared, including 10 schools, nine mosques and two hospitals. [A total of] 1,894 buildings and houses were inspected on the territory of 1,135 hectares, 115 kilometers of roads, more than 5,000 explosive items and improvised explosive devices were defused," the general concluded.
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.