Syria

Uighur jihadist fought in Afghanistan, killed in Syria

A Uighur commander known as Abu Omar al Turkistani was killed in a US drone strike in Syria on Jan. 1. According to a jihadi biography posted online, he had a lengthy career fighting alongside al Qaeda-linked forces. He purportedly participated in the Battle of Tora Bora in late 2001. Read more >

Islamic State faces multiple adversaries in Al Bab, Syria

The Islamic State has been battling Turkey and allied groups north of Al Bab, Syria since Nov. 2016. The US was reluctant, at first, to support Turkey's ground operations near the town. But that changed after Turkey turned to Russia for aerial support. The Syrian regime and its allies also launched an offensive south of Al Bab earlier this month. Read more >

Pentagon: Airstrikes kill 20 or more al Qaeda fighters in northern Syria

The Pentagon is still assessing the results of airstrikes on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 in northern Syria, but it is believed that 20 al Qaeda "militants" were killed in the bombings. The airstrikes are likely among the most significant carried out against al Qaeda in Syria since Sept. 2014. President Obama reportedly authorized a more robust air campaign against al Qaeda in Syria late last year, after the administration had previously defined down the threat. Read more >

IRGC officers killed in Palmyra

As the Islamic State has taken the ancient city of Palmyra and battle rages on in the outskirts for T4 military air base, two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers have been announced killed in Palmyra. IRGC-backed Fatemiyoun Division have fought in the area, augmenting Syrian forces backed by Russian air power. Read more >

Jihadis celebrate capture of Russian base in Palmyra, Syria

The Islamic State's Amaq News Agency claims that 352 men from the Syrian Army and allied Shiite militias were killed during four days of fighting in and around Palmyra. In addition, the group claims to have recovered a significant amount of "spoils," namely tanks and various weapons. A video recorded inside a base formerly used by Russians documents some of this war booty. Read more >

North Carolina man pleads guilty to conspiring with Islamic State recruiter

Justin Nojan Sullivan has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, including conspiring with Islamic State operative Junaid Hussain to plan "mass casualty shooting attacks on behalf" of the Islamic State. Hussain, who was killed in an airstrike last year, asked Sullivan to make a video of the attacks and Sullivan agreed. Hussain was one of the Islamic State's key digital planners. Read more >

Islamic State defends Mosul with dozens of suicide bombers

The Islamic State claims to have carried out 120 "martyrdom operations" in Iraq and Syria in October. Seventy-nine (79) of these suicide bombings were purportedly launched around the city of Mosul. The so-called caliphate has claimed 902 "martyrdom operations" in Iraq, Libya and Syria during the first ten months of 2016. If accurate, then the group is carrying out suicide attacks at a historically high rate. Read more >

Pentagon: Al Qaeda veteran in Syria was planning attacks against the West

The Defense Department announced today that Haydar Kirkan, a veteran al Qaeda operative who was plotting against the West, was killed in an airstrike in Idlib, Syria on Oct. 17. Kirkan was one of several al Qaeda leaders targeted in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen during the month of October. The Pentagon emphasized that the airstrikes demonstrate the "transregional nature" of al Qaeda. Read more >

Jihadists and other rebels launch new offensive in Aleppo

Al Qaeda's rebranded guerrilla army in Syria is fighting alongside other jihadists, Islamists and Free Syrian Army-branded rebels in an offensive intended to break the Assad regime's siege of Aleppo. Most of the participating groups belong to two coalitions: Jaysh al Fath ("Army of Conquest") and Fatah Halab ("Aleppo Conquest"). These same two alliances tried and failed to break the siege earlier this year. Read more >

IRGC commander killed on eve of Aleppo battle

A major battle has commenced in Aleppo between the array of pro-government and opposition forces that include Sunni and Shiite jihadists. Another high-ranking former IRGC commander has been killed in Syria. Iranian media claim he died while undertaking "advisory mission," but Guard commanders are engaged in direct combat operations, as well. Read more >

Town of Dabiq falls to Turkish-backed forces

The Syrian town of Dabiq, which has long been central to the Islamic State's apocalyptic messaging, was captured by Turkish-backed rebel forces on Oct. 16. Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield says that more than 1,300 square kilometers of territory along Syria's border with Turkey has been seized from the Islamic State since August. Read more >

Number of suicide attacks claimed by the Islamic State dipped in September

The Islamic State's Amaq News Agency claims that the so-called caliphate launched 53 "martyrdom operations" in Iraq and Syria in September. This is less than any previous month in 2016. But the Islamic State has claimed 782 suicide bombings in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first nine months of 2016, for an average of 87 per month. If accurate, this is a historically high rate. Read more >

Qassem Soleimani: Islamic State was created to fight Iran

Two top officials from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) delivered remarks commemorating the most senior IRGC commander killed in Syria last year. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC-QF, spoke about the strategic importance of Syria, and claimed that the Islamic State was established with the goal of threatening Iran. Read more >

Al Qaeda-linked foreign fighter recruiter designated by State Department

The State Department has designated Omar Diaby, who has recruited French men and women to wage jihad in Syria, as a terrorist. Diaby faked his death in 2015 so he could receive treatment for wounds he suffered. He resurfaced earlier this year. Diaby is infamous for producing a series of videos under the brand "19HH." The videos have explicitly marketed his loyalty to al Qaeda. Read more >