By Danielle Silvia
On Sunday, March 27, Syrian forces recaptured Palmyra, a city that had been taken over a few months prior by the Islamic extremist group ISIS, according to CNN.
As of Saturday, April 2, a week after the city was liberated, a mass grave was discovered with bodies that show signs of torture and beheading. It contained more than 40 people, mostly women and children, that were likely among the hundreds ISIS killed when they first took over Palmyra, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported, according to CNN.
Back in May 2015, ISIS gained control of Palmyra and haphazardly destroyed many of its ancient ruins, many of which are treasured by the city’s citizens and known to be some of the world’s most prized and well-known ruins, CNN reported.
The Syrian forces obtained the Palmyra Castle from ISIS and then helped militants flee very quickly, eventually taking hold of explosives left behind by ISIS, CNN reported. The Syrian forces were able to successfully gain access and control over the entire city of Palmyra, according to Fox News.
“This victory helps in further tightening the noose around ISIS terrorists,” the Syrian army told the news agency.
Syria’s government had to be justified in its action, according to government officials, as Syrian forces strategically organized these events to force ISIS groups out of the city. The Russian Air Force played a major part in the plan. It helped to take Palmyra back and, in addition, helped restore the city.
Since July 2015, historic sites, such as the old Arc of Triumph and the Temple of Baalshamin, had been completely destroyed. According to CNN, both of these ancient ruins were about 2,000 years old and their destruction were considered war crimes.
ISIS spoke about having control over Palmyra earlier in the week before Syrian forces recaptured it, according to Fox News. They claimed responsibility for damages done to the city over the last several months. ISIS even released a video showing Palmyra’s empty streets and land slots, as well as the various captured and corrupted monuments. There was also a scene of an ISIS militant operating a tank while exclaiming that any other force that intends to enter the city will be destroyed.
These events, especially this most recent capture of Palmyra, mark many of Syria’s forces becoming more powerful, as in the past few months, much of Syria’s rivalry with ISIS has been particularly harsh. With this recent capture of the city, reporters expect conditions to harden even further, proposing many more complications.
Irina Bokova, the director-general of the UNESCO said “As soon as security conditions allow, UNESCO is ready to go to Palmyra with those responsible for Syrian antiquities on a mission to evaluate damage,” Fox News reported.