Tadmur: Government gains may signal a renewed offensive [UPDATED]
At around 1300 hours Damascus time today, heavy clashes were reignited in the Palmyra area, just a few miles east of the recently recaptured city. Tadmur, which was captured by the Islamic State in late May of 2015, was recently retaken by government forces supported by the Russian Air Force. Now, there appears to be a renewed interest in expanding the government zone of control around the city, particularly to the north and to the east. It is possible that regime forces are considering a future offensive aimed at relieving the embattled government defenses in the city of Deir-ez-Zor, roughly 150km northeast of Tadmur.
So far, Farsnews organization has reported renewed fighting in the Antar mountains and south of the town of Arak, with SAA units advancing under the cover of air raids by SyAAF attack jets. It is unclear how much territory has currently been gained, but fighting continues in multiple locations as of 1700 hours Damascus time. Much of the fighting appears to be concentrated in the area south of Arak and east of the T3 Pumping Station, which is part of the oil-rich countryside surrounding Tadmur city.
UPDATE 1000 HOURS EST: Fighting continues as the SAA, supported by the government air force, continues to press eastwards towards the T3 Pumping Station in an apparent attempt to capture it. SOHR reports that regime helicopters have bombarded Ter Ma’la and Arak in recent days, and the Islamic State division known as “Wilayat Homs” has reported the confirmed capture of regime ammunition, arms, and one bulldozer. Little ground has been gained by either side so far, but it appears that the SAA is making a push towards Sukhnah and Deir-ez-Zor, the latter of which has seen intermittent fighting in the past few days.