The world has reason to worry afresh as Islamic State, the dreaded terrorist outfit, recaptured historic Palmyra as Syrian troops withdrew after pitched battles on Sunday, and the treasures of a heritage site may be lost forever. As ISIS’ “soldiers” rampaged again through the historic ruins and museums, from which artefacts have already been stolen or destroyed mindlessly by crazed men unmindful of their link to an ancient civilisation, it’s clear that war-weary Syrian troops, though buttressed by Russian help in air power, aren’t up to the task of retaining the territories won back from ISIS at huge cost few months ago.
A relapse of violence and bloodletting is likely with ISIS executing thousands in Palmyra’s historic amphitheatre. It appeared the war against one of modern civilisation’s worst challengers was being gradually won, with gains in major cities like Mosul and Raqqa. Major ISIS figures had also been killed in well-planned drone attacks, but the resolve of ideologically-driven zealots should not be underestimated.
More concerted action is needed by the international community to contain the menace to civilisation that ISIS represents. The only thing the United States and Russia seem to agree on is the need to eliminate the menace, but doubts are surfacing now over the Western superpower’s commitment to this cause as President-elect Donald Trump, after committing himself in campaign speeches to go after ISIS, is now saying, “No more fighting in areas we shouldn’t be fighting” in his Thanksgiving speeches recently. But the ISIS’s threat to the world is far from over.