An officer in the Russian Special Forces was hailed a hero in Moscow on Thursday when a source announced that he directed an air strike on his own position for an amazing reason.
“An officer of Russian special operations forces was killed near Palmyra while carrying out a special task to direct Russian airstrikes at Islamic State group targets.”
“The officer was carrying out a combat task in area for a week, identifying crucial IS targets and passing exact coordinates for strikes with Russian planes.”
“The officer died as a hero, he drew fire onto himself after being located and surrounded by terrorists.”
While the source doesn’t give a time for when this incident occurred, the timing of the disclosure is peculiar. Thursday, Syrian forces zeroed in on the ancient city of Palmyra which has been controlled by ISIS since last May.
Russian bombers have peppered the city with 146 airstrikes between Wednesday and last Sunday, yet the Kremlin denies any Special Forces are on the ground which runs in contrast to ISIS’ claim that they killed 5 of them last week, publishing pictured of the corpses online.
Palmyra’s takeover by ISIS has been particularly tragic because ISIS has destroyed a great deal of the priceless historic artifacts in the city. From temples and other priceless artifacts – some of which were constructed during the time of Christ. The New York Times reported:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist and monitoring group based in Britain, said Sunday in a statement that Islamic State fighters detonated “a large quantity of explosives” that they had arranged around the Temple of Baalshamin, one of the most grand and well-preserved structures in the sprawling complex of ruins. A government official told reporters that it was heavily damaged by the blast.
The temple stood “dozens of meters” away from a Roman amphitheater where the Islamic State held a mass execution, killing 25 prisoners, in a video released last month, the activist group said. The entire ancient city of Palmyra is a Unesco World Heritage site.
“I am seeing Palmyra being destroyed in front of my eyes,” Dr. Abdul-Karim told Reuters. “God help us in the days to come.”
“We have said repeatedly the next phase would be one of terrorizing people, and when they have time they will begin destroying temples.”
The destruction of these cities has caused leading archeologists to sneak into the area and figure out innovative ways of reconstructing and preserving these sites. Roger Michel the director of Oxford’s Institute for Digital Archaeology, the group overseeing this major operation, said:
“If ISIS is permitted to wipe the slate clean and rewrite the history of a region that defined global aesthetic and political sensibilities, we will collectively suffer a costly and irreversible defeat. But there is hope. By placing the record of our past in the digital realm, it will lie for ever beyond the reach of vandals and terrorists.”