France welcomes Palmyra conquest, raps Damascus

France hails recapture of ancient city of Palmyra, stresses that Damascus bears the main blame for the war in Syria.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ancient ruins in Palmyra
Ancient ruins in Palmyra

France on Tuesday hailed the recapture by Syrian forces of the ancient city of Palmyra as "positive news", but stressed that Damascus bore the main blame for the war in Syria.

"The advances against Daesh today cannot erase the fact that the (Syrian) regime bears the main responsibility for the conflict and its 270,000 dead over the past five years," said foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal, using the Arabic name for the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.

Speaking at a press briefing, Nadal reiterated France's call for a halt to attacks on "moderate opposition groups" in Syria.

Backed by Russia, Syrian government and allied fighters overran Palmyra on Sunday after nearly 10 months in which the Islamic State group held sway in the city.

ISIS overran Palmyra, known as the "Pearl of the Desert", last May and it has since blown up UNESCO-listed temples and looted relics that dated back thousands of years.

Analysts say the government's seizure of the UNESCO World Heritage site was the biggest blow so far in the war against IS and a major coup both for Damascus and Moscow.

It was a strategic as well as symbolic victory for President Bashar Al-Assad, providing control of the surrounding desert all the way to the Iraqi border, they said.

The French comments echo ones made Monday by the United States, which welcomed Assad’s victory over ISIS in Palmyra, but also stressed “that the best hope for Syria and the Syrian people is not an expansion of Bashar Al-Assad's ability to tyrannize the Syrian people.”

AFP contributed to this report.