AMMAN: Following the Islamic State’s rapid assault and capture of the historic town of Palmyra Wednesday, the group has reportedly instituted a curfew as it pursues remaining regime soldiers and as civilians suffer from a lack of running water and electricity.
“Residents are staying in their houses after IS imposed the curfew,” Umar Hamza, a civilian from Palmyra, told Syria Direct Thursday, an account confirmed by Lebanese pro-regime station al-Mayadeen.
Meanwhile, Islamic State fighters are conducting house-to-house operations to root out regime soldiers who were unable to flee Wednesday, reported pro-opposition Palmyra Media Center.
The Islamic State is disseminating warnings through the mosques to residents not to harbor regime soldiers, threatening that those who are caught doing so will face the same fates as the men they are hiding, reported the Palmyra Media Center on Thursday.
IS captured Palmyra and its historic ruins on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.
Civilians are stuck indoors, suffering from a lack of electricity and water caused at least in part by the regime’s targeting of electrical infrastructure as the Islamic State moved in.
“A total cutoff of electricity is affecting all areas of the town after the Assadist gangs struck large generators as they were retreating,” reported the Palmyra Media Center.
Palmyra resident Mohammed Hassan confirmed to Syria Direct that as the battle for the town was still ongoing on Wednesday, the regime put electrical facilities in its crosshairs.
“The regime targeted the electricity line in al-Amariya [a town just north of Palmyra] that supplies power to the water wells in Palmyra,” Hassan said.
In related news, official Syrian news agency SANA acknowledged the fall of Palmyra into IS hands Wednesday: “Popular Defense Forces withdrew from Palmyra neighborhoods after securing the exit of most of the residents.”
Several civilians and pro-opposition citizen journalists inside the city denied SANA’s claim of facilitating civilian evacuation. “It was the regime who prevented civilians from leaving Palmyra,” Khalid al-Homsi, the alias of the member of the Palmyra LCC, told Syria Direct Thursday.
“The regime is saying [that it evacuated civilians] to make its defeat less bitter and to pave the way for bombing the city on the basis that it’s free of civilians,” al-Homsi said.
Following IS’s takeover of the town, pro-regime media began playing up the danger to Palmyra’s ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, posed by the Islamic State.
“The terrorist IS attack on Palmyra is a revenge operation against civilization and Syrian society,” Mamum Abdul Kareem, head of monuments and museums, told SANA Wednesday.
“We were hoping that the international community would not fail in defending Palmyra, considering it’s a town of global human heritage.”