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    Syrian army soldiers carry flags in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017.

    Leaving Raqqa Behind: What's Behind Daesh Fleeing For Palmyra

    © REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki
    Middle East
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    Daesh fighters have been increasingly active in the areas near Palmyra since they want to recapture the strategically important city and use it to advance to Deir ez-Zor and other critical locations across Syria at a time when the brutal group is likely to lose its so-called capital of Raqqa.

    "We cannot allow [Daesh] to seize Palmyra since five or six important roads run through the city," Anatoly Tsyganokm who heads the Center for Military Forecasting, told Sputnik. "This is essentially a springboard that they can use any way they like. Political aspects of such a scenario are also important. Recapturing Palmyra would bolster the terrorists' morale; boost their recruitment efforts and foreign financing. For his part, Bashar al-Assad cannot lose Palmyra for the third time. This would deal a major blow to the image of the Syrian Arab Army."

    Defense analyst Ivan Konovalov told Radio Sputnik that Daesh intends to turn Deir ez-Zor into its new capital, but the militants need Palmyra to move equipment and resources to their next stronghold.

    "It is Palmyra that the SAA is planning to use to send its main force to lift the blockade of Deir ez-Zor and push Daesh out of the city," he said. "Daesh understands that they are likely to lose Raqqa, their de facto capital. They are determined to turn Deir ez-Zor into their new stronghold. This is why the areas around Palmyra are one of the most complex operational theaters."

    Recapturing Palmyra would also allow Daesh to launch operations against other strategically important locations, including Damascus. They would be able to take control of Qalamun, a mountainous region to the north of the capital, paralyzing the road between Damascus and the city of Homs.

    In addition, Daesh would be able to launch attacks against the Tiyas military air base, the largest air base in Syria. Two bombing and two fighter squadrons are stationed at Tiyas. If the SAA loses the base, its ability to carry out missions in central and eastern Syria would be severely limited. The terrorist group would then be able to improve its standing near the city of Homs, once the third largest city in the country and a major industrial center.

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    Tags:
    Syrian crisis, Syrian conflict, Daesh, Deir Ez-Zor, Palmyra, Syria, Raqqa
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