Two days later, on May 20, 2015, the Army made a hasty retreat and the city fell to ISIS.
State and opposition media both confirm that the Syrian Army has pushed back and blocked an approaching ISIS offensive on the ancient city of Palmyra (pictured below).
The international community was very concerned that the city’s antiquities would be dynamited as ISIS has done in many other areas. The counter-offensive was likely undertaken more over strategic concerns about Palmyra’s position relative to other key regime-held cities than over concern for the heritage sites, however.
The regime and FSA, in western Syria, have both systematically shelled and destroyed at least five of six UNESCO world heritage sites in Syria when they became battlefields. Palmyra is one of the six sites and has been subject to looting and some moderate battle damage.