The Islamic State announced today that Hudhayfah al-Badri, the son of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has been killed during a raid on Syrian and Russian forces in Homs province. Al-Badri’s death was announced via a graphic that is part of the Islamic State’s “Caravan of the Martyrs” series, which has featured deceased jihadists from around the globe. The so-called caliphate has offered few details concerning al-Badri’s purported death.
On Mar. 30, the US Treasury Department designated Bahrun Naim as a terrorist. Naim is one of the most prolific planners of the Islamic State’s so-called “remote-controlled” attacks. Most of his plots have been thwarted by counterterrorism officials, but he has a broad network of supporters in Indonesia.
The policy debate concerning Syria must reflect on-the-ground realities. The war is a complex, multi-sided affair with no easy solutions.
The US military said it destroyed 14 tanks “and other equipment” that was captured by the Islamic State after it overran the Syrian city of Palmyra and the nearby Tiyas Military Airfield.
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 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.
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.
The Syrian Army claims to have retaken the city of Palmyra from the Islamic State. Bashar al Assad’s forces, backed by their Iranian and Russian allies, are battling Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s jihadists on several fronts. The Islamic State frequently claims “martyrdom operations” against Syrian regime fighters in Aleppo province, Deir Ezzor, and elsewhere.
The Syrian regime is trying to recapture the city and Russian troops appear to be helping in the endeavor. This also comes just days after Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will be withdrawing the “main part” of its forces in Syria.
Russian airstrikes targeted the Islamic State throughout Syria this past week. The self-declared “caliphate” released dozens of propaganda photos claiming that the Russians damaged bridges and buildings in Raqqa, and killed civilians in a marketplace in Al Bukamal. Civilian casualties have been confirmed by other sources. Meanwhile, Western officials say it is increasingly likely that the Islamic State’s co-called Sinai “province” downed a Russian airliner in the Sinai on October 31.
The Islamic State has released a new video showing the execution of 25 Syrian soldiers in the ancient city of Palmyra. The executioners appear to be teenagers, or even younger. Days earlier, the jihadist group released images of statues from the city being destroyed.