Since the publication of ISW’s last sanctuary map on May 25th, 2016, ISIS militants lost control of the city of Fallujah but were able to launch spectacular attacks in Lebanon and on the Jordanian border. ISIS continues to lose territory in Iraq, and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are threatening its last major supply route from ar-Raqqa City to the Syrian-Turkish border.
Russia continues to pressure the U.S. and regional actors into closer cooperation through its military intervention in Syria. Russia ultimately seeks to supplant the U.S. as a security guarantor in the Middle East and has used its air campaign in Syria to galvanize its demands for greater coordination in the theater.
The White House issued a proposal for direct military partnership with Russia in an effort to reestablish a faltering political process to end the Syrian Civil War. The proposal appears to represent a major concession to demands from Russia for deeper cooperation from the U.S. in the fight against “terrorism” as part of its wider strategic objective to secure international legitimacy as a security guarantor in the Middle East at the expense of the U.S.
ISIS has two main lines of effort in Turkey. The first is to incite an ethnic war between the Kurds and the Turkish state in order to weaken its opponents in northern Syria and regain freedom of action in southern Turkey. The second is to undermine the Turkish state and punish it for being part of the anti-ISIS coalition through attacks against western targets in Turkey.
The White House defended its policy towards the Syrian Civil War following the publication of a diplomatic dissent cable calling for the “judicious” use of force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, President Assad appointed a new prime minister despite international calls for a political transition. Unconfirmed reports also claimed that Russia and Iran may deploy additional forces to the country over the next few weeks.
Four ISIS-linked Salafi-Jihadi groups in Philippines released a video on June 21, 2016 including an official logo for ISIS in Philippines, implying direct affiliation with ISIS. The four groups in the video are the Abu Khubayb Brigade, the Jundallah Battalion, the Abu Sadr Battalion, and the Abu Dujana Brigade.
Even as the ISF operation is on the verge of military success in Fallujah, it is poised to be a political failure.
The Syrian Civil War continued to escalate despite continued international pressure to enforce a diplomatic solution to the conflict. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for the start of a new nationwide ‘cessation of hostilities’ within the “next week or two” but warned that U.S. patience was wearing thin. Meanwhile, Russia intensified its own air campaign on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite claims of continued support for a wider ceasefire.
Russia heightened its military posture in Europe by projecting its land, air and naval capabilities. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on May 4 that it would create three new combined-arms divisions in the Western and Southern military districts, with a second announcement on June 3 specifying that these would include moving two motorized infantry brigades to its Western borders with Belarus and Ukraine.
Intra-Shi’a tensions reached a boiling point in Iraq when Sadrist demonstrators defaced headquarters buildings of both rival Shi’a political parties and at least one Iranian proxy militia in Baghdad and southern Iraq.