ISIS’s Military Operations during Ramadan: A Forecast for 2015

The purpose of this intelligence forecast is to outline ISW’s assessment of the most likely and most dangerous courses of action for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to pursue during Ramadan (June 17, 2015 to July 17, 2015). For the past three years, ISIS has conducted major offensive operations during the Ramadan holy month, accomplishing its major annual campaign objectives. Its predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), had historically also elevated violence in Iraq during Ramadan. ISIS is therefore likely preparing a surge of operations to try to achieve important campaign objectives. ISIS can also be expected to commemorate its declaration of a Caliphate on the first full day of Ramadan 2014 by trying to build upon or surpass its declaration of the caliphate last year. ISIS could do so by accomplishing new military objectives, striking religious targets, or announcing a new political milestone. Regardless, ISIS is likely to begin and end Ramadan with attempted spectacular military offensive actions in Iraq and Syria.