Two Syrian army soldiers taken prisoner by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham in the village of Jubain, near Tal al-Malah (Ibaa, June 15, 2019)
Rebel vehicle destroyed by the Syrian army on the road between Al-Hamamiyat and Al-Jubain (SANA, June 13, 2019).
ISIS squad members detained in Al-Raqqah by the SDF.
Renewal of the pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi (mihanvideo.com file-sharing website, June 16, 2019).
Sheikh Abu Salameh al- manghawi, who is apparently the commander of the group of operatives in Mali and Burkina Faso (standing in the middle).
Suicide bomber codenamed Khadifa al-Khorasani (Shabakat Shumukh, June 15, 2019).
Main events of the week
- The Syrian arena: In the Idlib region, the fighting continues between the Syrian army and the rebel organizations, led by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham. The ceasefire that was achieved (June 12) collapsed within a few days. On June 15, the Syrian army mounted a counterattack aimed at retaking the Tal al-Malah area, east of the southern part of the Al-Ghab Plain, which had been taken over by the rebel organizations. The counterattack was repulsed by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham, which reported that the Syrian army had sustained heavy casualties. On the other hand, several attacks by the rebel organizations against Syrian army positions in the area of Tal al-Malah were repulsed.
- ISIS is concentrating its efforts in the Syrian arena on extensive terrorist and guerrilla activity against the Kurdish SDF forces. One of the main incidents of the week was a suicide bombing attack carried out with a car bomb near the headquarters of the Kurdish security forces in the city of Qamishli (near the border with Turkey). The main sites of ISIS’s attacks against the SDF are the area of Al-Mayadeen and Deir ez-Zor in the Euphrates Valley, the city of Al-Raqqah (formerly ISIS’s “capital city”) and the Al-Hasakah area, which lies deep in the Kurdish control area.
- The Iraqi arena: ISIS continued its terrorist and guerrilla activity in the various provinces, mainly in northern and western Iraq. The most prominent types of modus operandi this week were the detonation of IEDs against vehicles, sniper fire, execution of collaborators, setting fire to grain fields, and showcase attacks against Shiite residents.
- In ISIS’s various provinces in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the “routine” activity continued: In the northern Sinai Peninsula, attacks against the Egyptian security forces (IEDs, sniper fire) continued; In southern Libya, which has become the main site of ISIS’s activity in the country, clashes continued between ISIS operatives and Haftar’s Army militias; In Nigeria, a Nigerian army camp was attacked; In Mali and Burkina Faso, ISIS operatives renewed their pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi; In Congo, a Congolese army camp was attacked; In Afghanistan, a suicide bombing attack was carried out at a government checkpoint in the city of Jalalabad (8 killed). In the marine area of Malaysia, fishermen were abducted by ISIS-affiliated elements and taken to the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines, apparently in order to demand a ransom for them.
Main events in Syria
The Idlib region
- According to reports by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham, its operatives managed to repel the counterattack. The Syrian army reportedly sustained heavy losses: according to an infographic released by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham, the Syrian army had over 50 casualties, the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham took three prisoners, weapons were destroyed, and arms and equipment were seized (Ibaa, June 15, 2019).
The area of the village of Tal al-Malah (1) and the village of Jubain (2), targeted by the Syrian army counterattack. The area of Al-Hamamiyat, to the north, is where the Syrian army repelled rebel attacks (Google Maps)
- On the other hand, the Syrian army reported that it had repelled a rebel attack on the area of Al-Hamamiyat, north of Tal al-Malah (SANA, June 13, 2019). Another attack of the rebel organizations on Syrian army positions in the Tal al-Malah area took place on the morning of June 18, 2019. The Syrian News Agency reported that the attack had been repelled and the attacking force sustained many losses (SANA, June 18, 2019).
Rocket fire at the Hama military airbase continued
- This week as well, it was reported that the rebel organizations had fired several Grad rockets at the Hama military airbase. There were no reports of casualties among the Syrian army (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 17, 2019).
The Kabanah area
- In the Kabanah area, on the Kurd Mountains (southwest of Jisr al-Shughur), there was no significant change on the ground. According to a rebel commander, after the attempted advance of the Syrian army and the militias supporting it was repelled on June 11, 2019, quiet has been maintained in this area (Enab Baladi, June 12, 2019).
Interim summary of the losses in the fighting
- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that since April 30, 2019 (the eve of the Syrian army offensive), a total of 1,664 people had been killed. A total of 675 of the dead belonged to the rebel forces, 555 to the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and 429 were civilians (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 17, 2019).
Preventive activity against ISIS
- Concurrently with the fighting against the Syrian army, the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham announced that in the past two months, its security forces had detained ISIS commanders and operatives in the Idlib area. Some of the detainees were executed (Ibaa, June 14, 2019). A source which is apparently affiliated with the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham released details about 15 senior ISIS figures who were detained (Telegram, June 14, 2019).
Senior ISIS figures detained by the security apparatus of the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham over the past two months. Some of them were executed (an announcement by the so-called Battalions for the Repulsion of the Deserters, an entity which is probably affiliated with the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (Telegram, June 14, 2019)
The area of Al-Mayadeen and Deir ez-Zor
- During the past week, ISIS continued its terrorism and guerrilla activity in the Al-Mayadeen and Deir ez-Zor area in the Euphrates Valley. Following are the main activities, according to statements of the Al-Sham Province – Al-Khayr region):
- June 11, 2019: An SDF Military Intelligence “agent” was shot at around the city of Al-Basira. He was killed (Telegram, June 12, 2019).
- June 15, 2019: An SDF fighter was shot at in the city of Al-Basira, about 14 km north of Al-Mayadeen. He was killed (Telegram, June 15, 2019).
- June 16, 2019: An SDF truck was shot at in the village of Diban, 5 km east of Al-Mayadeen. An SDF fighter was killed and another was wounded (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
- June 16, 2019: An SDF off-road vehicle was shot at in the village of Al-Sabha, about 20 km north of Al-Mayadeen. Three SDF fighters were killed and wounded (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
- June 16, 2019: Two IEDs were activated against an SDF command post in the village of Al-Tiyanah, about 8 km southeast of Al-Mayadeen. Four SDF fighters were wounded (Telegram, June 17, 2019).
- June 16, 2019: An SDF vehicle was shot at about 10 km northeast of Deir ez-Zor. Four SDF fighters were killed and wounded (Telegram, June 17, 2019).
The area between Al-Sukhnah and the Euphrates Valley
- The Al-Sham Province – Homs region reported that on June 12, a Syrian army force was ambushed east of the city of Al-Sukhnah. Eleven Syrian soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. Two vehicles were seized (Akhbar al-Muslimeen, June 12, 2019).
Northeastern Syria (the heart of the Kurdish control area)
Car bomb explosion near Kurdish internal security headquarters in Qamishli
- ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. According to ISIS’s Amaq News Agency, ISIS operatives parked a car bomb opposite the SDF Intelligence headquarters in Qamishli. According to the statement, many SDF fighters, including commanders, were killed and wounded. The building and vehicles parking nearby reportedly sustained heavy damage. The statement stressed that Qamishli is an administrative center of the SDF forces, and most of their military and security command posts are located there, as well as their civilian administration (Telegram, June 17, 2019).
Right: One of the vehicles which were destroyed in the explosion of the car bomb near the Kurdish internal security headquarters. Left: The evacuation of one of the destroyed vehicles (ANHA – Hawar News Agency, a Kurdish news website operating from Belgium, June 17, 2019).
Intense terrorism and guerrilla activity in the Al-Hasakah area
- The past week saw intense ISIS terrorism and guerrilla activity in the city of Al-Hasakah, in the heart of the Kurdish control area. Following are the main incidents, according to statements of the Al-Sham Province – al-Barakah region:
- June 12, 2019: ISIS operatives shot at an SDF commander in a southern neighborhood of the city. The commander was killed (Telegram, June 14, 2019).
- June 14, 2019: ISIS operatives shot at two SDF commanders in a southern neighborhood of the city. The two commanders were killed (Telegram, June 14, 2019).
- June 15, 2019: A motorcycle bomb was detonated against an SDF vehicle in a northern neighborhood of the city. Three fighters were killed or wounded (Telegram, June 15, 2019).
- June 16, 2019: An IED was activated against an SDF off-road vehicle about 30 km east of Al-Raqqah. The passengers were killed or wounded (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
- June 15, 2019: An IED was activated against an SDF vehicle in the Abu Rasin area, about 60 km northeast of Al-Hasakah (and about 10 km southwest of Qamishli). The passengers were killed or wounded (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
- June 17, 2019: ISIS operatives broke into the house of a member of the SDF Military Intelligence in the village of Ghariba al-Sharqiya, about 80 km south of Al-Hasakah. The man was shot to death (Telegram, June 17, 2019).
IEDs detonated by ISIS in the Al-Raqqah area
- ISIS operatives detonated four IEDs against SDF vehicles in the city of Al-Raqqah. After three IEDs had been activated in several neighborhoods of the city, the fourth IED was activated against a force which came to the rescue. ISIS’s Al-Sham Province – Al-Khayr region reported that 14 SDF fighters who were in the vehicle were killed and others were wounded (Telegram, June 13, 2019). A small IED uncovered in the center of the city was neutralized (SDF Press, June 14, 2019).
- Al-Sham Province – Al-Raqqah region reported that on June 15, 2019, ISIS operatives raided an SDF checkpoint near the village of Al-Ajil, about 9 km south of Al-Tabaqa. Two SDF fighters were taken prisoner and executed (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
SDF counterterrorist activity in the city of Al-Raqqah
- The SDF forces announced that on the night of June 13-14, 2019, their fighters, in collaboration with the International Coalition, had detained seven Syrian ISIS operatives in Al-Raqqah. They were members of an ISIS squad responsible for recent detonations of car bombs and IEDs in the cities of Al-Raqqah and Manbij. Weapons, ammunition and equipment for the activation of IEDs were found in the possession of the squad (SDF Press, June 14, 2019).
ISIS warns against the risks of crossing the border
- The Immigrants Foundation, one of ISIS’s media foundations, published a warning in English (and probably also in Arabic) entitled “Smugglers do not tell the truth about the risks and dangers of the routes they use and trouble our brothers.” The message warns ISIS operatives that these escape routes are not safe because along them there are checkpoints of the Syrian army, the Turkish army, and the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham. According to one of ISIS’s operatives, he tried five times to cross the border with a smuggler, but without success. According to him, the situation is worse than a couple of years ago. According to the message, passage attempts in these escape routes may end in death or detention (Telegram, June 13, 2019).
The title of the warning message regarding smugglers on the border between Turkey and Syria (Al-Muhajireen Foundation, affiliated with ISIS, Telegram, June 13, 2019).
Main developments in Iraq
ISIS’s terrorist and guerrilla activity
- Following are the main attacks for which ISIS claimed responsibility this week:
- Diyala Province: ISIS sniper fire in the area of al-Sa’adiyya, around 70 km northeast of Baqubah. Two soldiers of a special Iraqi army unit were killed (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
- Diyala Province: The capture and execution of an Iraqi Military Intelligence “spy” at his home about 40 km southeast of Baqubah (Telegram, June 15, 2019).
- Nineveh Province: The detonation of an IED against a Popular Mobilization vehicle around 30 km southwest of Sinjar. A commander of the Popular Mobilization forces was killed and another operative was wounded (Telegram, June 15, 2019).
- Salah al-Din Province: Blowing up the home of the mukhtar of one of the villages east of Samarra. After the explosion, a police patrol arrived on the scene, and then ISIS detonated another IED. Four policemen were wounded (Telegram, June 14, 2019).
- Nineveh Province: ISIS operatives carried out several attacks against the village of Al-Aytha, around 90 km south of Mosul. Six Tribal Mobilization fighters were killed and wounded in the attacks. In addition, grain fields belonging to Tribal Mobilization operatives were set on fire (Amaq News Agency, as posted on Telegram, June 13, 2019).
- Nineveh Province: Ambush against Kurdish forces (apparently against the Peshmerga) on the outskirts of Mount Sinjar. Several Kurdish fighters were killed and wounded. The incident began when ISIS operatives broke into the home of a Kurdish fighter and detonated an IED against a military vehicle parked there. A car bomb was detonated against the Kurdish forces which arrived at the scene. As a result, Kurdish fighters were killed and wounded (Telegram, June 12, 2019)
- Baghdad Province: ISIS claimed responsibility for carrying out three attacks in three neighborhoods in the city of Baghdad against the gatherings of Shiite residents. ISIS claims that 35 people were killed and wounded in the attacks (Telegram, June 12, 2019). These attacks were not reported in the Iraqi media.
Counterterrorist activities by the Iraqi security forces
- Following are the main counterterrorist activities carried out by the Iraqi security forces in the various provinces:
- Salah al-Din Province: A force of the Iraqi Federal Police located a rocket launcher on the highway between Baghdad and Samarra (Al-Sumaria, June 15, 2019).
- Salah al-Din Province: An Iraqi Military Intelligence force raided an ISIS “guesthouse” around 30 km northwest of Baiji, where 17 IEDs and a workshop were found (Al-Sumaria, June 16, 2019).
- Baghdad Province: An Iraqi Military Intelligence force searching for ISIS weapons located a stockpile of military equipment northeast of Baghdad (Al-Sumaria, June 16, 2019).
- Kirkuk Province: An Iraqi intelligence force detained four ISIS commanders in Kirkuk. The four commanders had carried out attacks against the Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga during the campaign to take over the Nineveh Province from ISIS (Iraqi News Agency, June 16, 2019).
- Diyala Province: Iraqi security forces detained a “terrorist operative” (implicitly, an ISIS operative) who had an explosive belt in his possession (Iraqi News Agency, June 16, 2019).
- Diyala Province: In Baqubah, Iraqi security forces detained an ISIS operative who was carrying a suitcase containing night vision binoculars and additional equipment. His interrogation led to the detention of a squad of ISIS operatives (Iraqi News Agency, June 17, 2019).
The Sinai Peninsula and Egypt
- ISIS attacks against the Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai Peninsula continue:
- According to an “Egyptian security source,” a police officer and five soldiers were wounded when an IED planted in a police car exploded during a patrol in northern Al-Arish (Shahed Sinaa, June 13, 2019).
- ISIS’s Sinai Province announced the killing of an Egyptian soldier by ISIS sniper fire in Rafah (Telegram, June 15, 2019).
- ISIS’s Sinai Province announced the detonation of an IED against Egyptian soldiers in the area of Al-Midan, west of Al-Arish. Nine policemen were killed and wounded (Telegram, June 15, 2019). ISIS documented the attack.
- An Egyptian soldier was killed by sniper fire in the village of Al-Masura, near the international highway leading to Rafah (Shahed Sinaa, June 16, 2019).
ISIS’s activity around the globe
Fighting between ISIS and militiamen affiliated with Haftar in southern Libya
- On June 12-15, 2019, fighting took place between ISIS operatives and the militiamen of the Haftar’s Army in the Haruj Mountains in southern Libya. According to ISIS, 20 militiamen were killed and wounded in the fighting. It was also reported that 30 Haftar’s Army militiamen were wounded near the villages of Tamsa and Samnu (see map) (Shabakat Shumukh, Telegram, June 15, 2019).
- On the other hand, the Libyan army reported that on June 15, 2019, three days of fighting against ISIS operatives in the Haruj Mountains and near the town of Al-Fuqaha had ended. According to the Libyan army, around 16 ISIS operatives were killed in these battles and around 11 vehicles were destroyed. One Libyan soldier was wounded when his vehicle hit a mine. Haftar’s Army also reportedly surprised the few remaining ISIS operatives hiding in the Haruj Mountains and killed over 12 of them (Akhbar Libya 24, June 14-15, 2019).
Right: The main sites of the fighting between ISIS and Haftar’s Army militiamen in the past week: The Haruj Mountains (1); the town of Tamsa (2); the town of Samnu (3) (Google Maps). Left: The area where ISIS has been operating intensively for the past three months (Google Maps)
The Haruj Mountains in central Libya (marked with a red circle) (Bing Satellite)
West Africa Province
Attack against a Nigerian army camp
- Operatives of ISIS’s West Africa Province attacked a Nigerian army camp in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. ISIS’s West Africa Province announced that at least 20 soldiers had been killed in the attack. In addition, large quantities of weapons were seized (Shabakat Shumukh, June 15, 2019).
Renewal of the pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s leader in Mali and Burkina Faso
Mali and Burkina Faso (Google Maps)
- The video shows a group of masked operatives. One of them, codenamed Sheikh Abu Salameh al- manghawi, who is apparently the commander of the group, notes (in Arabic) that following the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, Muslim believers became a cohesive group, whereas previously they had been separate, unrelated groups. The speaker notes that ISIS operatives have taken control of several towns in Nigeria, Niger and Chad and that the “international infidel forces” would not harm their faith and determination. The video goes on to document three groups in Mali and Burkina Faso renewing their pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s leader. At the end of the video, dozens of ISIS operatives are shown mounted on motorcycles with the ISIS flag next to them (mihanvideo.com, June 16, 2019).
Demonstration by ISIS operatives riding motorcycles, which serve as an important mode of transportation enabling ISIS operatives to move in desert and semi-desert terrain (mihanvideo.com file-sharing website, June 16, 2019)
Central Africa Province
- On June 16, 2019, ISIS’s Central Africa Province announced that ISIS operatives had attacked a Congolese army position in the east of the country (near the border with Uganda). According to the announcement, ISIS operatives and Congolese soldiers exchanged fire. A number of soldiers were killed and the rest fled. The Central Africa Province subsequently published photos of weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives in the attack (Telegram, June 16, 2019).
Right: Weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives (Telegram, June 17, 2019). Left: The area where the attack took place, not far from the Congo-Uganda border (Google Maps).
Afghanistan (Khorasan Province)
Suicide bombing attack at a checkpoint in Jalalabad
- On June 13, 2019, an ISIS suicide bomber carried out a suicide bombing attack at an Afghan government checkpoint in the city of Jalalabad. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. According to the claim of responsibility, eight militia members were killed and six were wounded (Shabakat Shumukh, June 15, 2019).
Right: Suicide bomber codenamed Khadifa al-Khorasani (Shabakat Shumukh, June 15, 2019). Left: The scene of the attack (www.tolonews.com, June 13, 2019)
- Associated Press reported that 10 fishermen had been abducted by ISIS-affiliated elements in the Malaysian marine region of Borneo. The fishermen were taken to the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines (where ISIS is active). The operatives took control over two fishing boats and abducted 10 fishermen, while another six fishermen managed to flee. Local security sources surmise that the abduction was carried out by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization in order to collect ransom money. In recent years, the organization has abducted a number of foreigners in order to collect ransom money. Some of the hostages were executed by the organization (AP, June 18, 2019).
 See Spotlight on Global Jihad, June 5-12, 2019. ↑
 The Haruj Mountains are basalt mountains in central Libya with an area of 45,000 square kilometers. The highest peak is approximately 1,200 meters above sea level (Wikipedia). ↑