Palmyra offensive (July–August 2015)

For the previous and the following offensives aimed to capture this city, see Palmyra offensive (May 2015) and Palmyra offensive (March 2016).
Palmyra offensive (July–August 2015)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
Date8 July – 4 August 2015
(3 weeks and 6 days)
LocationTadmur District, Eastern Homs Governorate, Syria


  • The Syrian Army comes within 3–5 kilometers of Palmyra city[1][2]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Commanders and leaders
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Laith al-Saoudy[3] Syria Talal al-Barazi
(Governor of the Homs Governorate)[4]
Units involved
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Military of ISIL 18th Tank Division[5]
Suqur al-Sahara[6]
1,800–2,000+ (Palmyra city)[7] Unknown
Casualties and losses
30 killed (SOHR claim)[8]
89 killed (Army claim)[9][10][11]
12 killed (SOHR claim)[8]
21 civilians killed[2][12]

The Palmyra offensive of July–August 2015 was a military operation launched during the Syrian Civil War by the Syrian Arab Army in July 2015, in an attempt to recapture the ISIL-held city of Tadmur, known in English as Palmyra.


In late May 2015, ISIL forces captured Palmyra and the surrounding countryside after a large-scale offensive.[13]

Between 15 and 22 June, the Syrian Army recaptured the Jazal oil field, and reopened a transport route from the field towards Syrian government-held cities. The advance placed the Syrian Army 10 kilometers west of Palmyra; however, this was not the start of a large-scale offensive to retake the city.[14] ISIL destroyed, by mining, some of the ruins of ancient Palmyra which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[15]

The offensive

On 8 July 2015,[16] the Syrian Arab Army and National Defense Forces, supported by the Syrian Arab Air Force, began an offensive towards Palmyra and by the next day made advances, positioning themselves 4–5 kilometers from the city.[2][17] The military seized around a 15 km area, west of Palmyra,[18] and some of the locations they had reportedly captured over the previous 24 hours was Nuzl Hayal and the Tel al Marmala, about 10 km from Palmyra's city center.[16]

Syrian government forces made further advances 11 July,[19] as the death toll since the start of the offensive reached at least 30 ISIL fighters and 12 soldiers.[20]

On 13 July, the Syrian Army's special forces unit, the Tiger Forces, captured the Ancient Quarries in the northwestern countryside of Palmyra after fierce clashes with ISIL. According to a Syrian Army source, Syrian Arab Army (SAA) units were less than 2 km from the Qassoun Checkpoint, leading to the Qassoun Mountains of Palmyra.[21] Two days later, the SAA and National Defence Forces (NDF) reportedly managed to capture Al-Meshtal and Qasr Al-Hayr in southwestern Palmyra.[10] Over 15 and 16 July, fighting between ISIL and the Tiger Forces moved to the southeast of the Ancient Quarries, while the Syrian Army also reportedly advanced into the Wadi Al-Abyad (White Valley).[9][11]

Fighting in the Palmyra countryside continued into 20 and 22 July.[22][23] On 24 July, the SAA resumed operations towards the southern perimeter of the Ancient Quarries.[24] On 26 July, Syrian government troops advanced, capturing some strategic hills that would allow them to survey ISIL forces inside of Palmyra City.[25] On 27 July, the SAA and Hezbollah reportedly captured Palmyra Castle, after a three-hour gunfight. As a result, Syrian government forces were now a mere three kilometers from the ancient city. Footage also showed approximately 300 ISIL combatants fleeing in the direction of their capital, Ar-Raqqah (or Al-Raqqah, or Raqqa).[1] On 1 August, SOHR reported that the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) was still bombing Palmyra.[26]

On 4 August, ISIL launched a counter-offensive, recapturing the territory north of the Ancient Quarries and south of the Jazal Mountains. However, the SAA managed to repel the ISIL assault and to recapture most of the lost territory.[27]


In March 2016, the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, launched a new offensive with the aim of capturing Palmyra which turned out a success.[28]

See also


  1. 1 2 Leith Fadel. "Syrian Army at the Outskirts of Palmyra: Driving School and Castle Captured". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Palmyra: Syrian army poised to attack Isis-held city of ancient ruins". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  3. Shaheen, Kareem (27 May 2015). "Syria: Isis releases footage of Palmyra ruins intact and 'will not destroy them'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  4. "At least 23 killed as IS advances on Syria's ancient metropolis of Palmyra". Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  5. Leith Fadel. "ISIS Launches an Offensive at the Ancient City of Palmyra in East Homs". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6. Leith Fadel. "ISIS Storms the Gates of the Ancient City of Palmyra". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  7. "Syrian civil war: Can Assad's regime survive the onslaught from Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra?". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  8. 1 2 Master. "More than 50 members of IS and regime forces killed and wounded in the east of Homs". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  9. 1 2 Leith Fadel. "Two Critical Battles Taking Place in East Homs: Palmyra and Tiyas Airbase". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  10. 1 2 Leith Fadel. "Breaking: Syrian Army Captures Al-Meshtal in West Palmyra". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  11. 1 2 Leith Fadel. "Syrian Armed Forces Strike ISIS in East Homs". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  12. "IS seizes some houses in the city of Palmyra, and gives a time limit for the government employees to "repent"". SOHR. 10 August 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  13. "Islamic State Seizes Ancient City from Syrian forces",; accessed 25 August 2015.
  14. "Syrian army advances west of Palmyra",, 23 June 2015.
  15. "ISIL 'plants mines' in ancient Syrian city of Palmyra". Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  16. 1 2 "Syrian army says it's closing in on Islamic State in Palmyra". Reuters. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  17. Louisa Loveluck in Cairo (9 July 2015). "Syria army battles Islamic State outside Palmyra". Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  18. "30 IS Militants Killed in Fighting Near Syria's Palmyra". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  19. Edward. "The regime forces advance on the southern outskirts of the city of al-Hasakah and the clashes continue in the vicinity of the Palmyra area". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  20. Master. "More than 50 members of IS and regime forces killed and wounded in the east of Homs". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  21. "Breaking: Tiger Forces Capture the Palmyra Quarries". Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  22. Edward. "Clashes in the eastern countryside of Daraa, and in the vicinity of Palmyra lands". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  23. Edward. "The regime forces target several areas in the northern countryside of Homs and the clashes continue in the countryside of Palmyra". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  24. Leith Fadel. "Palmyra Front Heating Up: Syrian Army Pushes South of the Ancient Quarries". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  25. "Regime forces advance and control high lands in the vicinity of Palmyra",, July 2015; accessed 25 August 2015.
  26. Edward. "Warplanes raid on Palmyra and the factions target the countryside of Latakia". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  27. Leith Fadel. "ISIS Attempts a Counter-Offensive at Palmyra". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  28. Fadel, Leith (2016-03-27). "Breaking: Syrian Armed Forces liberate Palmyra". Retrieved 2016-08-05.

Coordinates: 34°33′36″N 38°16′02″E / 34.5600°N 38.2672°E / 34.5600; 38.2672

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