Palmyra: US forces to 'clean up' after Russia's rout
The United States suggested it may send ground troops to retake Palmyra from Islamic State (IS) in a White House press briefing on Thursday.
Press spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters that IS’ threat to the region had increased significantly after they captured a massive arms cache from the Syrian Army, including a Russian anti-aircraft system.
"It's now US members of the military that are now going to have to go in and clean up the mess again that was created by Syria with the backing of the Russians," said Earnest.
IS fighters captured Palmyra from Syrian and Russian forces over the weekend, as reports emerged that sparse defences were easily overpowered in a surprise attack.
Syria and Russia had chosen not to post many troops in Palmyra in order to redeploy them to Aleppo.
IS later released a video showing that Russian troops had run away before they had had opportunity to gather their personal effects.
|Earnest raised questions over the presence of an anti-aircraft system in Palmyra, pointing to IS’ lack of aircraft|
Russia blamed the US at the time for not sharing sufficient intelligence to prepare them for the attack.
Some analysts believe that if IS retake the T4-airbase nearby, the weapons provided could be sufficient to repel the latest attack on their logistics base in al-Bab.
On Wednesday, Earnest raised questions over the presence of an anti-aircraft system in Palmyra, pointing to IS’ lack of aircraft.“It does underscore the grave risk that Russia is taking by dedicating their resources to attacking innocent civilians in Aleppo and propping up the Assad regime, and taking their eye off the ball when it comes to ISIL,” he said.