Russian Forces Continue March into Syrian Islamic State Territory

This article originally appeared at The Independent:

On the highway to Palmyra, across the desert from Homs, a Russian armoured convoy shimmered in the heat. The landscape is a grey, gritty, hostile sand that stretches all the way to Isis-land, not like the soft yellow dunes of the Gulf, but the Russian soldiers seemed unperturbed. One stood on the roadway, as tall as a Serb, automatic rifle on his right arm, US-style shades over his eyes, grinning at us beside his armoured personnel carrier.

It’s strange how a Westerner reacts to the Russian army these days. Weren’t these the sons of the guys who invaded Afghanistan in 1979 – another “limited intervention” I recall at the time – and were these not the very same soldiers who are now in the Crimea? Yet we are ambivalent, we lonely Westerners in this dangerous desert. Out in this oven sand-field, with Isis and their motor-bike attackers only a few miles on each side of the highway, I must admit it’s a tad reassuring to see Putin’s lads on the road.

They are a mine-clearing unit and the Russians with their white European faces, watching us with self-confidence from their trucks, have been clearing the streets of Palmyra. “No mines,” it says in Russian on every street corner in big red paint. The Russian base in Palmyra, a stone’s throw from those tortured ruins of Xenobia, is safe from Isis’s network of explosives and underground booby-traps. For now.

But Palmyra is a mournful place. A few civilians have returned, but dust blows the garbage down haunted streets. I find the mosque, outside of which a dozen men were lined up and ritually beheaded in streams of blood after Isis captured the city. A picture of this atrocity, twice cropped to keep the ghouls at bay, appeared in The Independent. Not a trace now, of course, of suffering or horror, just a flyblown intersection, a twisted metal sign and the baking heat. In the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre, we notice a rope tied round the top of a Corinthian column with a small loop underneath to hold a noose – Isis’s handiwork, too obscure and high for Palmyra’s liberators to cut it down.

Read the full story at The Independent.


Comment count on this article reflects comments made on Breitbart.com and Facebook. Visit Breitbart's Facebook Page.