Spotlight on Global Jihad
The destruction of the Karam al-Maysar neighborhood in the eastern part of Aleppo (Aleppo Today channel, September 26, 2016).
Fateh Aleppo operatives in the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp (YouTube, September 24, 2016).
The building destroyed in the suicide bombing attack in Inkhil (Haq, September 22, 2016).
ISIS operatives march through the main street of the village of Abu Kamal (Amaq, September 25, 2016).
The liberation of al-Shirqat (Al-Sumaria, September 22, 2016).
Weapons seized by ISIS in the Iraqi military camp.
Shadi al-Mani'i (Al-Jazeera, July 1, 2015).
Abu Osama al-Masri (Al-Ein, June 18, 2016)
Kamal Amal (Al-Jazeera, February 5, 2015).
Infographic of the battle zones in Sirte (Facebook page of the information center of the campaign against Sirte September 22, 2016).
The so-called "Russian intelligence agent," claimed to be an ISIS captive (YouTube, September 22, 2016).
Main events of the week
The collapse of the ceasefire (continued)
- The United States, Russia and other groups involved in the fighting in Syria continue blaming one another for the collapse of the ceasefire. The issue was discussed in the UN Security Council, where American and Russian representatives traded accusations. John Kerry, the American secretary of state, angrily accused Russia of living in a "parallel universe" and called for the grounding of all aircraft in "key areas." American officials said "he was referring to parts of northwest Syria that are in dire need of aid…where the opposition is prevalent." Russia denied responsibility (New York Times, September 22, 2016).
- Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, speaking before the UN General Assembly, stressed the importance of preventing the collapse of agreements the United States had signed with Russia and Syria. He called for a "fair and impartial investigation" of the incidents that occurred in Aleppo and Deir al-Zor. He stressed that “it’s essential to fulfill the [Security Council] demand to dissociate the so-called moderate opposition from the terrorists. Here, special responsibility rests with the US and the members of their coalition.” He added that "their refusal or inability to do this in the present circumstances can’t but strengthen the suspicion that it’s being attempted to remove Jabhat al-Nusra out of harm’s way" (RT, September 23, 2016).
- General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the United States was still willing to coordinate air strikes with Russia because "despite the recent events dealing with the Russians right now is one of the paths that might mitigate the risk of civilian casualties and humanitarian disaster in Aleppo." Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria, told the Russian media that Russia and the United States had to work together in the coming days for a new ceasefire. He said both countries had agreed to cooperate (Tass, September 23, 2016).
Attack on a UN convoy (continued)
- Mutual accusations continued over the identity of those responsible for the attack on the UN humanitarian aid convoy to Aleppo. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that Russia was behind the attack. He said Syrian and Russian aircraft were operating overhead at the time but he was not sure which had attacked (AP, Anatolia, September 22, 2016).
- Russia rejected the accusations against it. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, claimed the Syrian air force was incapable of carrying out attacks after dark, which was when the convoy was attacked. Therefore, he claimed, it was impossible that the Syrian air force had been involved (Sputnik, September 21, 2016). According to Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian ministry of defense, the convoy was attacked by "terrorists" who shot at it from a truck driving alongside (Tass, September 20, 2016).
The international coalition
The United States
- During the past week there was a significant increase in the intensity of coalition air strikes attacking ISIS targets in Iraq. According to reports, they were carried out in preparation for the forthcoming campaign to take Mosul. In Syria ISIS petroleum installations in the east Syria areas of Deir al-Zor and Abu Kamal were attacked in order to put pressure on ISIS's economic infrastructure. In Libya attacks on Sirte continued, although to a lesser degree than formerly (Website of the American Department of Defense).
- Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Turkish foreign minister, said that Turkey was considering enlarging Operation Euphrates Shield to create a security zone 45 kilometers deep (about 28 miles). He denied that the objective of the campaign was to attack Kurdish forces. He added that Turkey and Russia were currently discussing an agreement to define the areas of the activity of their forces in Syria (France24, September 25, 2016).
- A "Turkish army source" reported that the Turkish forces in Syria were working on the wording of a formal protocol to coordinate flights in Syrian air space. According to the source, the Turks had reached a verbal agreement with the Russian forces according to which the areas of activity of each country would be separate from one another. The source said the Turkish army provided the Russian forces with information about its activities in Syria. He said the Russian forces had agreed to inform the Turks about every Russian flight near areas of Turkish activity (Hurriyet, September 25, 2016).
Main developments in Syria
The situation in Aleppo (as of the morning of September 28, 2016)
- Previously the Syrian army had reported gains in the region of the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp north of Aleppo (Khutwah, September 24, 2016). On September 24, 2016, the al-Fateh and Fateh Aleppo Army (a coalition of two rebel organizations supported by the West) reported they had retaken from the Syrian army extensive areas of the refugee camp (Lionshunters Twitter account, September 24, 2016). However, the situation on the ground is fluid and so far has not been decided.
The area between Aleppo and the Euphrates
- ISIScontinues waging guerilla warfare against the rebel organizations and the Kurdish forces in the area west of the Euphrates, even after the loss of most of its strongholds. ISIS operatives clashed with Kurdish forces around the town of Manbij. ISIS also claimed responsibility for detonating a car bomb east of the city of Azaz (about 42 kilometers, or 26 miles, north of Aleppo on the Syrian-Turkish border). ISIS claimed 17 operatives were killed in the explosion and 14 wounded, apparently operatives in the Free Syrian Army (Haq, September 23, 2016).
- Local clashes continued in the northern Golan Heights between the Syrian army and the rebel organizations, part of the rebel attack they call the Southern Qudsiyah Campaign. According to reports, Fateh al-Sham Front operatives burned more than 100 dunams (about 25 acres) of farmland south of the village of Khadr (Damascus al-Aan, September 24 2016).
- ISIS's Damascus Province announced that a suicide bomber named Abu Ayoub al-Daraawi detonated an explosive belt at a rebel meeting in the village of Inkhil (about 43 kilometers, or 27 miles, north of Daraa). The explosion killed and wounded about 50 people, among them senior rebel organization figures (Haq, September 22, 2016).
ISIS completes military training course
- On September 24, 2016, ISIS posted a video of dozens of its operatives marching in a ceremony ending a military training course held at an organization facility in the village of Abu Kamal (Amaq, September 24, 2016). The town lies near the main border crossing between Syria and Iraq. The crossing, which is controlled by ISIS, is used to move weapons and operatives between Syria and Iraq.
Main developments in Iraq
- On September 24, 2016 after months of attacks, Iraqi army and Shi'ite militia forces, with air support from the United States, retook the city of al-Shirqat (which had been under ISIS control for more than two years). The liberation of al-Shirqat gave the Iraqi forces control over the main route leading northward from Baghdad along the Tigris to the area of Qayyarah, which is planned to be used as the launching ground for the campaign to liberate Mosul.
ISIS's Terrorist and Guerilla Campaign
- Although pushed out of the large cities, ISIS continues its terrorist attacks and guerilla warfare throughout Iraq:
- On September 26, 2016, ISIS claimed it had killed 25 Iraq soldiers north of al-Rutba during an attack on an Iraqi army camp (Haq, September 26, 2016).
- On September 26, 2016, ISIS reported that it has attacked a military base north of al-Rutba and killed 25 Iraqi army soldiers (Al-Jazeera, September 26, 2016).
- On September 25, 2016, seven people were killed and 28 wounded in a suicide bombing attack in the Shi'ite neighborhood of al-Iskan in the western part of Baghdad. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack (Al-Ahed, September 25, 2016).
- On September 25, 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for firing an anti-tank missile at an Iraqi military base west of the city of Makhmour. Iraqi soldiers are deployed there in preparation for the campaign to liberate Mosul (Haq, September 25, 2016).
- On September 24, 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded near an Iraqi army camp in al-Khadr, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Mosul (Haq, September 24, 2016).
- On September 24, 2016, three suicide bombers detonated three car bombs in an attack on an Iraqi police convoy in the region of Tikrit. At least eight people were killed and 23 wounded (Al-Sumaria, September 24, 2016). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack (Haq, September 25, 2016).
- On September 26, 2016, ISIS claimed it had carried out an attack on an Iraqi army camp in the region where the borders of Iraq, Jordan and Syria meet (Haq, September 26, 2016).
The Sinai Peninsula
- A military source in the Sinai Peninsula reported that following intensive Egyptian security activities, ISIS was pushed out of its strongholds in the Sinai Peninsula and was currently operating only in the regions of al-Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. According to the source, only a few senior ISIS operatives remained, most of them having been killed in recent weeks. Among those killed were Shadi al-Mani'i, Abu Osama al-Masri and Kamal Alam. The source added that ISIS's Sinai Province had not yet managed to appoint a new leader (Al-Bawaba News, September 23, 2016).
- Information about the ISIS's Sinai Province leaders reported killed by the Egyptian security forces:
- Shadi al-Mani'i was a senior ISIS operative and one of the founders of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula, which became ISIS's Sinai Province. He was born in Amman in 1988. His father was of Egyptian origin and his mother was Palestinian. He belonged to the al-Sawarka Bedouin tribe and lived in the Sinai Peninsula. For several years he smuggled merchandise into the Gaza Strip. He was detained a number of times by the Egyptian authorities. He swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He had been involved in fighting the Egyptian army since the regime of al-El-Sisi began (Al-Jazeera, July 1, 2015).
- Abu Osama al Masriwas a senior ISIS operative in the Sinai Province. His full name was Muhammad Ahmed Ali. He was born in 1979, and came from el-Arish. He received military training in the Gaza Strip and Syria. He is suspected of being behind the crash of the Russian plane in the Sinai Peninsula (October 31, 2015) (Al-Arabiya, November 8, 2015).
- Kamal Amal was a senior operative in the jihadist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. He was born in el-Arish. He was wanted by the Egyptian authorities for many years. During the Egyptian revolution in 2011 he managed to escape from jail. He and Shadi al-Mani'i were described by the Egyptians as a dangerous extremist, and a danger to Egyptian national security. He was an active participant in attacks on the Egyptian army and on Egyptian governmental institutions (Al-Jazeera, February 5, 2015).
The global jihad in other countries
- On September 22, 2016, battles renewed between forces loyal to the Government of National Accord and ISIS operatives. The clashes took place near ISIS's last strongholds (the marine neighborhood and the 600 Buildings district. Spokesmen reported that the forces had closed off the road leading from the marine neighborhood to the 600 Buildings (Reuters, September 22 and the Libyan al-Marsad, September 24, 2016).
Counterterrorism and Prevention Activities
- In the middle of September 2016 the French security authorities in Nice detained two young women, aged 17 and 19. They were suspected of planning to carry out terrorist attacks. During interrogation they admitted to having been in contact with Rashid Qassem, an ISIS operative from France who resides in Syria or Iraq. The two claimed the attacks were to avenge the killing of ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. The two young women lived in the Nice neighborhood where the terrorist attack on the seaside promenade was carried out on July 14, 2016 (Trtworld.com, September 25, 2016).
- At the beginning of September 2016 a network of women was uncovered in Paris after the discovery of a car booby-trapped with gas balloons near the entrance to Notre Dame. The network was handled by Rashid Qassem, a French ISIS operative, who was in contact with the girls detained in Nice.
The battle for hearts and minds
- On September 20, 2016, ISIS posted a video of a captive who claimed he worked for Russian intelligence. The video had Russian subtitles, and the Russian-speaking captive represented himself as a Russian intelligence officer. He did not say where or when he had been captured. He appealed to Vladimir Putin for help, saying that if Putin did not accede to ISIS's demands he would be executed (YouTube, September 22, 2016).
http://usmclife.com/2016/09/dunford-us-works-russia-coordinate-support-mitigate-risk-syrians/. ITIC emphasis.
On September 16, 2016, a UN-Red Crescent convoy of humanitarian aid en route to Aleppo was attacked from the air. The attack occurred west of Aleppo in a rebel-controlled area. A warehouse belonging to the Red Crescent was also attacked. The International Red Cross reported that dozens of civilian convoy participants were killed and 31 trucks were hit.