The Associated Press quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on Palmyra’s strategic location and what advantages ISIS will gain from its takeover:

Palmyra’s location in Syria’s heartland offers the militants several important advantages, said Faysal Itani, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. The town can now be used as a launching pad to threaten government positions and supply lines south of Aleppo and east of Homs and Hama, and open up a new approach to Damascus, seat of Assad’s power.

IS can also threaten regime supply lines to the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, where government forces are still holding out against the militants.

“If IS manages to cut off Deir el-Zour, it is likely that the city would fall, essentially ending regime presence in that province, and consolidating IS’ core territory,” he said.

The fall of Palmyra follows major setbacks for Assad in northern and southern Syria. “This is simply an indication of how overstretched the regime is,” Itani said.

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Related Experts: Faysal Itani