Palmyra City

Key facts

► It is a modern resettlement of the ancient city of Palmyra, which developed adjacently to the north of the ancient ruins.

► In 2015, the militant organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an attack on the modern town, raising fears that the iconoclastic group would destroy the historic city.

► The UN refugee agency and its partners are preparing aid for some 11,000 people who fled the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra and surrounding villages when they were overrun by militant forces this week.

4
Offensive since 2105

Palmyra is a city in central Syria and it is the administrative centre of the Tadmur District and the Tadmur Subdistrict.

Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. The ruins of ancient Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are situated about 500 metres (1⁄3 mile) southwest of the modern city centre. In Arabic, both cities are known as ‘Tadmur’. Tadmur is the Semitic and earliest attested native name of the city.

It is a modern resettlement of the ancient city of Palmyra, which developed adjacently to the north of the ancient ruins. The modern city is built along a grid pattern. Quwatli Street is the main road and runs east-west, starting from the Saahat al-Ra’is Square on the western edge of the town. In 1929, Henri Arnold Seyrig, the general director of antiquities in the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, started excavating the ruins of Palmyra and convinced the villagers to relocate into the newly built village, adjacent to the ancient site. The relocation was completed in 1932, making the ancient city of Palmyra ready for excavations, while the residents settled in the new village of the same name.

The city served as a base for tourists visiting the ruins. It has a museum in the southwestern part of the city and an airport. Palmyra also serves as a center for Syria’s phosphate mining and natural gas industries.

Palmyra has suffered from numerous military actions.

On 13 May 2015, the militant organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an attack on the modern town, raising fears that the iconoclastic group would destroy the historic city. On 18 May ISIL captured the city, with their forces entering the area of the World Heritage Site several days later. The attacks significantly increased Isis control over Syria.

In addition to destroying ancient buildings, they also defaced and decapitated statues.

55062
Inhabitants

Text: UNHCR - Refugee Agency.

11000
people fled in 2015

The UN refugee agency and its partners are preparing aid for some 11,000 people who fled the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra and surrounding villages when they were overrun by militant forces this week.
Situated in central Syria, Palmyra had been sheltering thousands of people forcibly displaced from other parts of Syria for the past three years. It was reportedly captured from the Syrian army on Wednesday, along with the nearby World Heritage-listed archaeological sites.

About 8,000 people have found shelter in the village of Al-Qarayateen and a further 3,000 fled to nearby Furglus village. The displaced are staying with relatives or schools in the villages, which are located about 75 kilometres to the west of Palmyra. Syrian government forces recaptured Palmyra on 27 March 2016 after intense fighting against ISIL fighters. According to initial reports, the damage to the archaeological site was less extensive than anticipated, with numerous structures still standing. Following heavy fighting, ISIL reportedly reoccupied the city on 11 December 2016, prompting an offensive by the Syrian Army which retook the city on 2 March 2017.