Over the last week, ISIL has captured Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, a city located in central Homs province, 210km north-east of Damascus, in a desert that stretches to the Iraqi in the east.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that ISIL now controls approximately nine out of 14 provinces – which puts them in control of almost half of the country.
Activists in Palmyra, who requested anonymity, told Al Jazeera that ISIL took full control of the city on Wednesday evening and people are trying to escape, with many left stranded on the streets.
According to one activist, “ISIL have infiltrated the city overnight. Power is down and we barely have any electricity or water. There is fear among residents and we do not know what to expect next.
“The Syrian regime have bombed several targets for ISIL since last night, but air strikes also targeted two mosques in the city and several people have been killed and others injured.
“Hospitals and clinics are being bombed too. There are not enough medical supplies or doctors to treat the injured.”
Nasser, a journalist in Palmyra, told Al Jazeera that residents in the city could not leave and government forces offered no way out. With no non-governmental organisations operating in Palmyra, people are in desperate need of aid and medical supplies.
“There are almost 170,000 people here, including 50,000 internally displaced people from Homs and Der Ezzor,” he said. “ISIL is hated by residents here and … will not treat us any different than those elsewhere in areas they control. This is a new siege.”
- Pray for Syria. Pray that God will intervene in this nation that is broken and bleeding.
- Pray for those in Palmyra and other cities taken over by ISIL, for protection and for provisions of food and medical aid to reach those who need it.
- Pray for Christians in Syria and surrounding countries, to not lose hope, but to trust in the God who loves them. Pray they can be a source of hope and healing to their families and neighbours.
- Pray that, despite ISIL efforts to wipe out Christianity, the Church will not only prevail, but indeed grow and flourish.
Hebrews 10 vs 23: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.”