Syria is once again in the limelight. Since Syria’s attempted invasion by USA under the guise of regime change was thwarted by the intervention by Russia, it has gone off the radar. Since then, geo-political earthquakes shifted around Iraq, Libya, and into Ukraine. Looks like it has gone a full circle and Syria is once again back in focus. This time round, it is getting ugly. The Russian embassy came under mortar shelling. Russia is obviously getting more than annoyed.
“We treat the incident as terrorist act, aimed against the Russian Embassy. We strongly condemn its perpetrators, organizers and instigators. We reaffirm our solidarity with the Syrian authorities in their efforts to combat the terrorist threat in the territory of Syria,” Aleksandr Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.
Moscow urged the international community “to give due assessment to the terrorist attack against the Russian diplomatic mission” and demanded “an immediate cessation of such acts” from all parties with influence on the extremists in Syria, he added.
Islamic State militants swept into the historic desert city of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday, and by evening were in control of it, residents and the Syrian state news media said, a victory that gives them another strategically important prize five days after the group seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi.
Palmyra has extra resonance as home to some of the world’s most magnificent remnants of antiquity, as well as the grimmer modern landmark of Tadmur Prison, where Syrian dissidents have languished over the decades.
But for the fighters on the ground, the city of 50,000 people is significant because it sits among gas fields and astride a network of roads across the country’s central desert.
As they have swept across Syria and Iraq, Islamic State fighters have destroyed or damaged numerous ancient sites and sculptures, condemning them as idolatry in slickly produced recruitment films, even as they pillage and sell off more portable items to finance their activities. That has raised fears both locally and internationally that Palmyra, a United Nations world heritage site, could also be irrevocably damaged.