The Russian government says that a gas leak was most likely responsible for an explosion at an apartment building in Magnitogorsk on Dec. 31. On Jan. 17, the Islamic State claimed that the incident was really an “operation” conducted by the Islamic State’s Caucasus province.
Hezbollah has repositioned its men for the ongoing battles in Syria.
The city of Tabqah and the surrounding area have fallen to US-backed forces. The Islamic State had controlled the city, the Tabqah dam, and a military airbase in the area since 2013-2014. The battle for Tabqah, which began with a surprise attack on Mar. 22, is a key part of the strategy to capture the self-declared caliphate’s capital of Raqqa.
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.
In a statement released last week, Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, an influential jihadi ideologue aligned with al Qaeda, criticized Turkey’s cooperation with Russia against the Islamic State. Maqdisi warned jihadists and Islamists in Syria to rethink their decision to work with Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, which has captured significant territory from the so-called caliphate in northern Syria.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a new offensive by the Islamic State has effectively cut the city of Deir Ezzor in two. The Islamic State has battled forces loyal to the Assad regime in and around Deir Ezzor since mid-2014. The jihadis’ latest assault has exacerbated the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the city.
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.
The Islamic State claims to have taken complete control over the city of Palmyra. Various reports indicated earlier in the day that the jihadists had been forced to withdraw from the city after heavy Russian airstrikes. Update: Amaq News Agency released a video of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men inside Palmyra.
The Islamic State launched an offensive near the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province on Dec. 8. The US-led coalition “destroyed a fleet” of 168 oil tanker trucks owned by the jihadists that same day. The Islamic State and the Syrian regime have repeatedly clashed in Homs province, especially at gas and oil fields that both sides seek to control.
The Islamic State launched an assault on Syrian regime positions in the Homs province earlier today. The so-called caliphate’s propaganda arm and other outlets report that Syrian government forces suffered dozens of casualties. Bashar al Assad’s men and their allies recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in March. The two sides have repeatedly clashed in Homs, including near Palmyra, since then.
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.
The Islamic State’s Furat Media Establishment has released a short video allegedly showing a captured Russian intelligence agent. The man is made to address Russian President Vladimir Putin directly and plead for his life.
The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has claimed 729 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya since the beginning of the year. The figures for August indicate that 81 suicide attacks were carried out in these three countries. If the statistics are accurate, then the self-declared “caliphate” is carrying out suicide bombings at a historically high rate.
The Islamic State claimed five “martyrdom operations” against Syrian regime checkpoints in Damascus, Homs and Tartus earlier today. The assault in Tartus appears to have caused the most casualties, with dozens reportedly killed or wounded.
Russia initially denied that a helicopter was downed east of Palmyra, Syria. After the Islamic State posted a video of the attack, the Russians conceded that two pilots were killed when the chopper was struck by Islamic State terrorists. Russian propaganda has blamed an American-made TOW missile for bringing down the helicopter, but the video seems to show anti-aircraft fire hitting the tail rotor of the chopper.