The historic citadel at the edge of the ancient city of Palmyra was badly damaged in repeated air strikes Monday by Russian war planes, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The air strikes were aimed at Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist military bases set up close to the archaeological treasure, a UNESCO World Heritage site, according to Russian government officials who issued a statement about the attack.
“Su-25 jets hit a fortified ISIS position in the Tadmor area of Homs province,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement late Monday.
“As a result of a direct strike, a fortification, an underground bunker and anti-aircraft artillery were destroyed.”
It is the first time Russia confirmed an air strike near the ruins of ancient Palmyra, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the human rights organization.
Russia said its pilots have struck more than 237 targets in Syria over the past two days, although the extent of damage to the Palmyra citadel could not be verified, and the timing of those strikes was not revealed.