Europe

Syrian troops after taking Palmyra from IS, clear explosives

FILE -This file image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. Syrian state media said on Thursday, March 2, 2017 that military forces have entered Palmyra in the quest to again take the town from the Islamic State group. Palmyra, home to some of the world's most prized Roman ruins, was seized again by IS in December. (Amaq News Agency via AP, File)

FILE -This file image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. Syrian state media said on Thursday, March 2, 2017 that military forces have entered Palmyra in the quest to again take the town from the Islamic State group. Palmyra, home to some of the world's most prized Roman ruins, was seized again by IS in December. (Amaq News Agency via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

A Syrian security official says Syrian army units are cleaning land mines and explosives in the historic town of Palmyra hat were left behind by Islamic State militants.

The official says he expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the extremist group. He spoke on condition of anonymity Friday in line with regulations.

Syria's military announced the previous night that its forces have fully recaptured Palmyra from the extremist group as the militants' defenses crumbled and IS fighters fled in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.

The development marks the third time the town — famed for its priceless Roman ruins and archaeological treasures IS had sought to destroy — has changed hands in one year.