Coalition airstrike destroys IS weapons near Palmyra
PALMYRA - Coalition aircraft have destroyed heavy weaponry seized by Islamic State jihadists when they retook the Syrian city of Palmyra from regime forces over the weekend, officials said Friday.
The strikes on Thursday destroyed an air defense artillery system, 14 tanks, three artillery systems, two IS-held buildings and two tactical vehicles, the coalition said in a statement.
Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, who commands the US-led coalition bombing IS in Iraq and Syria, had said Wednesday that the jihadists "possibly" had air-defense equipment -- potentially posing a risk to coalition aircraft.
"Basically, anything they (IS) seize poses a threat to the coalition, but we can manage those threats and we will," Townsend said.
Thursday's attack took place near the Tiyas military airfield near Palmyra, northeast of the fabled city along a highway.
IS overran Palmyra on Sunday, nine months after being expelled by Russian air strikes and forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad.
IS had initially seized Palmyra in May 2015 and went on to blow up UNESCO-listed Roman-era temples and loot ancient relics.
The Pentagon and coalition partners have accused Moscow and Damascus of taking their eyes off Palmyra to focus on bombing the former rebel bastion of Aleppo.