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Russian Build-Up In and Around Ukraine: August 12, 2016

An ongoing Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders may indicate preparations for conventional military conflict. It certainly marks a dramatic escalation of tensions that will have significant repercussions in Ukraine. Russia has deployed additional military forces and systems to Ukraine’s northern, eastern, and southern borders.

Syria Situation Report: July 22 - 29, 2016

Pro-regime forces completed the encirclement of Aleppo City on July 28, isolating the main stronghold of mainstream opposition groups in Northern Syria. Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusra head Abu Muhammad al-Jolani issued a video statement announcing the formation of a new group called ‘Jabhat Fatah a-Sham’ with “no affiliation to any external entity” in a symbolic break with Al-Qaeda. The rebranding represents a calculated move to facilitate the unification of armed opposition groups in a “grand merger” that continues to pursue the long-term strategic vision of Al-Qaeda to establish an Islamic Emirate in Syria.

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: June 29 - July 27, 2016

Russia enabled pro-regime forces to complete the physical encirclement of Aleppo City on July 28, isolating the primary nexus of the non-jihadist opposition in Northern Syria. These gains threaten the long-term survival of mainstream opposition groups that could serve as potential partners against ISIS and Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

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