Syria

Islamic State loses more ground in Raqqa, Deir Ezzor

As US-backed forces seize the city of Raqqa, the Syrian regime moves to retake ground in Deir Ezzor, where the Islamic State has laid siege to Bashar al Assad's forces since 2014. Assad's regime has received a boost from Iranian-sponsored militias, as well as the Russians, during its recent offensive in eastern Syria. Read more >

Australia disrupts ‘sophisticated’ plot directed by the Islamic State

Australian authorities say they broke up an especially "sophisticated" Islamic State plot in late July. The so-called caliphate wanted to bring down an airliner using an improvised explosive device (IED). The Islamic State even shipped the IED components to the suspects in Australia. The accused men were also allegedly experimenting with a bomb intended to disperse hydrogen sulfide. Read more >

Qassem Soleimani boasts of Tehran’s expanded footprint throughout Middle East

On July 3, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Qods Force, spoke at an Iran-Iraq war veterans gathering in his home province of Kerman. Soleimani praised the Islamic Republic’s decades-long effort to take the mantle of the Palestinian cause and boasted that Tehran’s influence in the Middle East has expanded as a result of the Syrian war. He excoriated Saudi Arabia, as well as domestic Iranian critics of the Guard Corps. And the general also lamented the drop in religious observance in Iran. Read more >

US-backed forces enter Islamic State stronghold within Raqqa

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have entered the Old City of Raqqa after the coalition blew two holes in a historic wall the Islamic State was using as a defensive fortification. The SDF's fighters first approached the Old City in mid-June, but the wall and heavy fighting in a nearby neighborhood impeded their advance. Meanwhile, an Australian jihadi is featured in a new propaganda video recorded in Raqqa. Read more >

Qods Day commemorations highlight Tehran’s global reach

The Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies abroad on Friday commemorated Qods (Jerusalem) Day, an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan and established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to express support for Palestinians and opposition to Israel. The regime has not shied away from reiterating its call for Israel's destruction during the annual event. Read more >

Iran tests the US in southeastern Syria

Major powers involved in the Syrian war are racing to maximize gains from the crumbling Islamic State in southern and eastern Syria. The continued advancement of pro-Syrian regime forces and Iranian-backed militias toward the US-held Tanf base – as well as the potential advance of both sides toward the Iraqi border area - raise the risk of further clashes that may draw in the US and Russia, though the latter has been unwilling to challenge US strikes against a pro-regime convoy and Syrian warplanes this year. Read more >

CENTCOM: Three senior Islamic State foreign fighters killed

CENTCOM announced today that "three senior foreign fighters" in the Islamic State were killed in recent weeks. Two of them were reportedly involved in the group's "external operations" and one of them was a trainer in the "Cubs of the Caliphate" program, which indoctrinates youth. The third jihadist helped oversee the Islamic State's use of small drones. Read more >

Why the UK launched its first targeted drone strike ever

The UK Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has released its investigative report on the Aug. 21, 2015 drone strike that killed UK national Reyaad Khan. The bombing was "the first time outside participation in a military campaign that the UK had conducted a lethal drone strike against a terrorist target." Khan was one of the Islamic State's most prolific cyber planners. Read more >

Ayman al Zawahiri warns against ‘nationalist’ agenda in Syria

In a new audio message, Ayman al Zawahiri warns jihadists that they should avoid a strictly "nationalist" agenda in Syria. He also says the jihadists should focus on waging a "guerrilla" war inside Syria and not place too much emphasis on controlling territory at this time. Zawahiri's words are likely intended to influence some of the debates occurring within jihadist circles. Read more >