(From AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday hailed his troops’ victory over the Islamic State group in the ancient oasis city of Palmyra as an “important achievement.”

After heavy clashes overnight, IS fighters have retreated to Sukhnah, Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor towns

“This is an important achievement and fresh proof of the efficiency of the Syrian army and its allies in fighting terrorism,” Assad said of the recapture of Palmyra, during a meeting with French parliamentarians in Damascus.

He also hit out at the global coalition striking IS in Syria and Iraq, saying his army’s victory “shows the coalition — led by the US and including more than 60 countries — is not serious about fighting terrorism”.

Russian-backed troops and allied militia pushed the jihadists out of the ancient city earlier on Sunday in a major strategic and symbolic win.

Syria’s government has strived to position itself as the primary anti-jihadist force in the country.

The army pledged on Sunday to build on its win in Palmyra by pushing their offensives against IS strongholds in northern Raqa and Deir Ezzor in the east.

The US-led coalition has been carrying out strikes against IS in Syria since September 2014, and Russia began its own air campaign in support of Assad one year later.

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