Islamic State re-enters historic Syrian city of Palmyra

A statement by Islamic State's news agency Amaq said the group had taken the strategic Jabal al Tar and Jabal Antara mountains that overlook the city in some of the heaviest fighting since the group lost the city.

Islamic State re-enters historic Syrian city of Palmyra

File photo of a Syrian man carries a carpet through a devastated part of the town of Palmyra as families load their belongings onto buses in the central Homs province in Syria. | Image: Hassan Ammar AP/Press Association Images

Islamic State fighters have re-entered Palmyra in Syria nine months after they were expelled by pro-Assad forces backed by Russia.

The Palmyra Coordination Collective reports that militants have overrun the city's military warehouse and its northern and western districts after taking several government positions, oil fields, and strategic hilltops in the surrounding countryside in a lightning three-day campaign. 

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says IS forces reached the city's Tadmor Hospital and its strategically located wheat silos. 

"IS entered Palmyra on Saturday and now occupies its northwest. There is also fighting with the army in the city centre," said the group's spokesman Rami Abdel Rahman.

A statement by Islamic State's news agency Amaq said the group had taken the strategic Jabal al Tar and Jabal Antara mountains that overlook the city in some of the heaviest fighting since the group lost the city.

The US-led coalition which is separately fighting the militants said late on Friday it had taken out 168 IS oil tanker trucks near Palmyra in a large air raid.

The militants destroyed several of the city's famed ancient Roman monuments and executed its archaeological director after sweeping into the city in July 2015 and holding it for 11 months, causing extensive damage to many of its ancient sites.

They were ousted from Palmyra in March by Syrian regime forces backed by Russia.