Russia intensified its air campaign against the Syrian opposition in and around Aleppo City from September 20 – 22 following the breakdown of the nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The dramatic uptick in Russian airstrikes coincided with the Syrian Arab Army’s announcement of the start of an offensive to seize the remaining opposition-held districts of Aleppo City.
Violence in Aleppo City spiked to new highs after the collapse of a nationwide ‘cessation of hostilities’ on September 19. The ceasefire marked a core component of a wide-ranging deal on the Syrian Civil War reached by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on September 9. No initiative appears likely to prevent the ongoing escalation, pointing towards a new wave of violence that will benefit ISIS, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, and other Salafi-Jihadist Groups.
ISW has produced nearly 60 maps on Russian airstrikes in Syria since they first began on September 30, 2015. The first map appeared less than 24 hours after the Russians began strikes and they continue today as do the strikes despite repeated "cessations of hostilities" and an alleged Russian withdrawal.
Security forces are overextended across Iraq due to increased ISIS attacks and provincial security issues.
ISW's President and Founder Dr. Kimberly Kagan spoke at two sessions in New York City: "The Ripple Effect: Mapping Security Implications of Global Events" and "Intelligence from Open Sources: Partnerships for International Security." Jessica Lewis McFate, ISW's Director of Tradecraft and Innovation, also spoke at the Concordia 2016 Summit on September 19.
Pro-regime forces reinstated the siege of Eastern Aleppo City on 04 SEP. On the same day, opposition groups backed by the Turkish Armed Forces successfully cleared ISIS from the entire length of the Syrian-Turkish Border in Northern Aleppo Province. ISIS later conducted a wave of five suicide attacks on 05 SEP targeting regime positions in Tartous City, Homs City, and Damascus as well as the Syrian Kurdish YPG in Hasaka City.
Iraqi Kurdish parties fractured over the impending no-confidence vote against Kurdish Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Meanwhile, the National Alliance, the pan-Shi’a bloc in the CoR, selected Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) leader Ammar al-Hakim as its new chairman on September 5.
ISW's Jennifer Cafarella and Genevieve Casagrande along with Nicholas A. Heras from the Center for a New American Security highlight, in an Op-Ed for Foreign Policy, the danger to the U.S. from al-Qaeda in Syria, particularly the group Ahrar al-Sham.
ISIS’s network in Europe accelerated small scale attacks in July and August 2015 as part of a deliberate transition to the next phase of its global war between Muslim and non-Muslims. The recent death of ISIS’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the primary architect of ISIS’s global campaign, will likely not suppress this terror campaign.