In Brief

Islamic State retakes Palmyra in Syria

Defeat raises questions about the ability of regime to hold on to territory

Islamic State militants have retaken the historic Syrian town of Palmyra, despite a series of Russian air strikes that reportedly killed 300 fighters.

The news was confirmed by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights after IS-affiliated Amaq news agency broadcast claims of a victory against Syrian forces.

Losing the city to IS militans is "an embarrassing setback for thousands of Syrian government troops and their Russian allies defending the area", the Wall Street Journal says.

It also "raises questions about the ability of the Syrian military, worn down after years of fighting, to hold territory even with the backing of its Russian allies", The Guardian says.

IS first captured Palmyra in May 2015 and held the town for ten months, before being driven out by Syrian troops in March this year.

During that time, militants destroyed a number of historic Roman buildings in the city and beheaded Khaled al-Asaad, Palmyra's long-serving leading archaeologist.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria's director of antiquities, fears IS will be "more vengeful" this time around and has called on the international community to help protect the city's historic architecture.

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