Four Americans, including two service members, were killed when an Islamic State suicide bomber struck in Manbij, Syria earlier today.
The policy debate concerning Syria must reflect on-the-ground realities. The war is a complex, multi-sided affair with no easy solutions.
As each side converges on the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab, a military confrontation between Turkish-led rebels and pro-regime forces appear inescapable. In the meantime, tensions between Ankara and Moscow are rising yet again, risking pulling the United States and NATO further into the Syrian theater.
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.
Top commanders in the Quds Brigade, a Palestinian militia allied with the Syrian government that operates in Aleppo, have been photographed receiving medals from Russian military officers for battlefield victories.
The Quds Brigade, known as Liwa al Quds or the Syrian Arab Army Fedayeen, is a Palestinian paramilitary group fighting on the side of Bashar al Assad in Aleppo.
The Islamic State issued a “martyrdom” statement today for Abu Muhammad al Adnani, who was one of the group’s top leaders and spokesman. The Defense Department subsequently confirmed that Adnani was targeted in an airstrike, but added that his status was still being assessed. The Pentagon described Adnani as the “principal architect” of the Islamic State’s “external operations,” meaning the part of the organization devoted to planning attacks in the West and elsewhere abroad.
Jaysh al Tahrir, a group that has received several US TOW anti-tank missiles in the past, fought with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Aleppo. The SDF is the main anti-Islamic State fighting force for the United States and has received considerable support from the West.