Homs – Islamic State (ISIS) militants assaulted the T4 Military Airport on Monday, breaching its defenses with mortar batteries and heavy machine guns.
Amro al-Hussein, a media activist, reported that ISIS “destroyed at least three warplanes in the T4 Airport and captured some parts of the base, after clashes with the Syrian Army.”
Located in the Homs’ eastern countryside, the T4 Airport is a critical security installation, providing regime forces with close air support. ISIS jihadists were able to storm into the base after seizing security checkpoints in the nearby Mashtal and Qasr al-Hir Districts.
Monday’s assault came just one day after the hardline group recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs Governorate. Activists and military sources confirmed the rout, reporting that the army had been forced to withdraw under fire.
“The army withdrew after the clashes reached the city center and it became impossible for them to push ISIS back,” local media activist Abas al-Omar reported.
Regime forces were obliged to evacuate their headquarters in Palmyra, heading westward toward Doua District and the T4 Airbase.
According to al-Omar, ISIS had “continued shelling the army’s positions inside Palmyra with mortars and heavy artillery for hours, causing large losses in the army ranks.” Dozens of soldiers were killed on Sunday and a number of others remain unaccounted for, likely taken as prisoners.
Russia had supported the Syrian Army in Palmyra, with airstrikes and logistical support but their efforts were apparently insufficient to save the city.
ISIS first took over Palmyra in May 2015, following a protracted battle with regime forces. The Islamic State’s occupation was exceptionally brutal, even by the standards of Syria’s 5-year-long conflict.
ISIS published images of their jihadists massacring civilians and destroying ancient monuments, arguing that the monuments were idolatrous and locally worshiped.
Reporting by: Haytham Mustafa | Source: ARA News
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