Anhar Kochneva: ''The insurgents timed the attack on Palmyra to coincide with the birthday of the Prophet''
Twice lost ancient city: ''Barmaleys'', ISIS car bombs, failure of information warfare and praying Assad
The world was shocked by reports that the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra was re-conquered by the terrorists last weekend. There were very controversial news during the fights. A columnist of Realnoe Vremya Anhar Kochneva in her new newspaper column written specially for our online newspaper examines the current situation. Besides, she draws attention to the strange information policy of the Syrian government on these days.
The personnel reshuffle has not worked out
The events occurred in Palmyra at the end of last week… So today a few words about what is happening there. For two days, the government army quite successfully, although in fierce battles with heavy losses for both sides, has been fighting off the attacks of the ''barmaleys'' (Barmaley – pirate and a cannibal, hunting in Africa, the character of poetic tales Barmaley (1925) by K.Chukovsky – editor's note), constantly receiving reinforcements of manpower. It is impossible to hold positions and firing points in the conditions when they are being attacked in a mined shaheed-car. Well, only if you are sitting in canvas tents behind the sand bags. Not in a medieval fortress or a fortified concrete bunker. Although even in the case of dislocation, it is all not very clear in the fortress.
The Syrian leadership changed the chief of the armed forces of Palmyra, but the new head of the Palmyra units just didn't have the time to do anything to change the situation. There were too many Barmaleys (the official figures are about 5.000 people), they are being relocated to a town in the desert from Mosul, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The insurgents timed the attack to coinside with the Muslim holiday — the birthday of the Prophet. And this fact gives encouragement to those who fight for ISIS (the organization banned in Russia — editor's note) for fanatical motives.
Militants on the steps of the museum
On Sunday night, it was officially announced that the Syrian army decided to cede the center of the modern city of Tadmur (the name in Arabic, the same name as ancient Palmyra had — Palmyra is the exclusively European name) to the insurgents temporarily. The governor of Homs province, on the territory of which Palmyra is located, reported that the retreat was carried out after the evacuation of the majority of residents of the city. The exact number of evacuees has not been announced, they say about 80% of those who were in the city at the moment.
It should be noted that the city still has not returned to its former life — part of the residents left, someone is abroad, someone is with relatives in Damascus, Homs, in the coastal cities. That is, at the time of the attack there were not so many civilians. We also know (from Twitter of the opposition to the government of Syria but who do not support ISIS opposition from Palmyra) that some unspecified number of people, who were found by ISIS in Palmyra and the surrounding area, were taken by ISIS Barlameys to Raqqa. According to the governor, the situation is difficult, but not hopeless, and after some time, the city must return under the control of the government forces.
Fierce battles with the use of aviation are underway in the city and on the outskirts. According to some sources, some of the Russian soldiers being in the city were wounded and evacuated. There were no Russian archaeologists in the city. According to Russia 24 Channel reports, as on 15 p.m. on Monday, the advance of the militants was stopped (they were advancing from three sides and tried to do it from the fourth one).
There are videos taken by fighters. On one of them, they are on the steps of the museum. I hope that fragments of exploded by the Barmaleys monuments are not inside this museum but in 250 km in the Syrian capital, otherwise all plans for restoration will come to nought.
Strange information resources
Once again I want to note the disgusting work of the Syrian official media: at the time when the whole world was watching the news from Palmyra on the anti-Syrian channels such as Al-Jazeera, BBC, etc., the Syrian media strenuously pretended that nothing was happening. The president did not appeal to the people but publicly prayed in the mosque on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet. The television was showing bravura songs, was telling about the liberation of Aleppo and about the chronicle of the life of different regions of the country: a conference on the rights of women was held, a new road was built somewhere.
The same situation was in August 2013 when the whole country had to watch Al-Jazeera because the Syrian television said nothing about the explosion by militants of a huge arms depot in Homs: the rockets were flying and exploding above the city and residential quarters, black smoke poured but the Syrian television celebrated Army Day. Apparently, despite the fact that absolutely incompetent former minister of information was replaced by a new person, the Syrians do not know how to conduct the right information policy.