Russian combat engineers have arrived in the ancient city of Palmyra to clear mines ISIS left behind.
With the help of robots, the Russian sapper units will have to search more than 445 acres in Palmyra for mines, according to the Associated Press. This large area also has booby traps and handmade explosives scattered throughout, making the search for the military mines even more difficult.
Even though the Russian aircraft have largely scaled back on attacking the rebels fighting against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the Russian military has by no means taken a back seat in the goings-on in Syria. Palmyra was recaptured by Syrian troops and backed by Russian airstrikes, and Russia has shown it will still fight ISIS and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
Beginning on February 27, a Russian- and U.S.-brokered cease-fire in Syria has largely been respected. The attacks on ISIS and the Nusra Front are excluded from the cease-fire.
In March, about 500 combat missions around Palmyra have been flown by Russian warplanes. They have struck about 2,000 targets and hit some ISIS targets, according to Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff.
ISIS held Palmyra for 10 months, but on Sunday that reign came to an end. Before dawn, Il-76 transport planes carrying the Russian engineers who will clear the bombs in Palmyra landed at the Russian air base in Syria.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Syria’s director of antiquities and museums, Dr. Maamoun Abdelkarim, estimates around 300 historical sites and 450 individual buildings are damaged in various conditions throughout Syria. Some may have been damaged because of looting, and some may have been damaged in the war.