US welcomes Palmyra recapture from IS

WASHINGTON, March 29 (KUNA) — The US welcomed the seizure of the ancient city of Palmyra from the so-called Islamic State but said the Syrian regime should be further “engaging in the diplomatic process.” “We certainly welcome word of any loss of territory on the part of ISIL, and the ejection of IS from parts of Syria we think are a good thing,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told a press briefing.
“We are actively trying to eject IS ourselves from parts of Syria, as you know,” added the military official.
His comments came after reports that Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power recaptured the ancient Semitic and Roman city located in present-day Homs Governorate.
After blaming the government for a “civil war” in Syria, he said that the Assad regime’s focus should be right now on trying to end the crisis and “engaging in the diplomatic process that’s currently under way.
“We hope that they devote as much of their focus to that, as they have in Palmyra,” he said.
In response to reports that the Russian-backed Syrian regime’s next move will be to retake Raqqa from IS, he said that this is not something the US is “prepared to walk through at this point.
“The campaign plan is to both move towards the two centers of power, if you will, that IS currently controls – both Mosul (Iraq) and Raqqa (Syria).
“But there certainly is a plan in place, a campaign plan that’s been in motion for some time now, and we are accelerating that plan, I think as you’ve seen in recent weeks,” he said in reference to the Iraqi army backed by coalition’s plans on Mosul. (end) sd.bs