Bashar al Assad’s forces and allies are advancing on the Islamic State’s stronghold in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor. The two sides have fought in Deir Ezzor for years and the Assad regime is hoping to turn the tide of battle with the help of Russian airpower.
The US State Department announced today that Islamic State leaders Ahmad Alkhald and Abu Yahya al-Iraqi have been named specially designated global terrorists. Alkhald was the “explosives chief” for the “terrorist cell” that carried out Nov. 2015 assault in Paris and the Mar. 2016 Brussels bombings. Al-Iraqi “oversees ISIS security in Iraq and Syria.”
The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency claims that the attack in Barcelona, Spain today was carried out by the group’s “soldiers.” The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a string of operations in which terrorists drove a van or truck into a crowd.
The Taliban, which continues to make inroads in Kandahar province, released a video flaunting a bounty of weapons, ammunition and military equipment after it overran bases and outposts in Khakrez and Shah Wali Kot.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced three more strikes on Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, over the past two days. All three took place in Shabaab-held territory.
The brief designation omitted Hizbul Mujahideen’s support for al Qaeda in the past, as well as its relations with other jihadist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hizbul Mujahideen’s emir was officially listed as a global terrorist in June 2017.
The Taliban has released an “open letter” to President Trump urging him to “adopt the strategy of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan instead of a troops increase.” The propaganda letter contains several erroneous or misleading claims. It is also disingenuous with respect to the jihadist threat emanating out of Afghanistan.
Suspected jihadists laid siege to a popular restaurant with Westerners in the capital of Burkina Faso. Two UN bases were also attacked by jihadists in Mali.