Russia is waging a multi-front campaign against Turkey in order to weaken NATO in line with its strategic objectives. The use of a high-end Soviet-era MANPADS against a Turkish helicopter in southeastern Turkey on May 13 could indicate that Russia is providing meaningful military support to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) insurgency. The incident, if indeed an escalation by Russia, is yet another infringement of a sovereign NATO partner.
The ISF has made significant gains in the Euphrates River Valley over the past two months, recapturing almost the entirety of the southern bank.
Iraqi politics are deadlocked. Several political parties and blocs boycotted the Council of Representatives (CoR) following the Sadrist protesters’ first breach of the Green Zone on April 30. The Kurdish Alliance, a bloc that consisted of nearly one-fifth of the CoR, withdrew on May 5. The bloc has now split, and two of its component political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran, formally reunited on May 14 to create a new bloc.
Updated on May 21: Iraq faces a major political crisis that threatens to collapse the current government and exacerbate political unrest. Political stability in Iraq is critical to the ability of the U.S. to continue anti-ISIS operations, not only to defeat ISIS but also to prevent its reconstitution. This page provides a comprehensive collection of ISW reporting and analysis of this political crisis, which ISW has covered since it began. As the crisis continues, ISW’s analysis and reporting will continue.
The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) agreed to new measures to reinforce a nationwide 'cessation of hostilities' following a meeting on May 17. The ISSG pledged support to a campaign of "air bridges" starting on June 1 if actors continue to deny humanitarian access to besieged regions. The ISSG also threatened to exclude parties with a "persistent pattern of noncompliance" from the ceasefire. The meeting nonetheless failed to set a clear date for the resumption of the Geneva III Talks.
A temporary ceasefire ended in Aleppo City on May 11, sparking a new wave of violence throughout the city and its outskirts. The U.S. and Russia brokered the local truce on May 5 as part of an effort to reinstate a nationwide 'cessation of hostilities'. Meanwhile, Lebanese Hezbollah military chief Mustafa Badreddine reportedly died in an unidentified explosion near Damascus less than a week after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps suffered one of its largest single-day combat losses in Syria.
ISIS carried out explosive attacks in Baghdad and its environs to undermine an increasingly fragile Iraqi government through April and early May. The group exploited a security system both distracted by ongoing political upheaval caused by a stalled reform and burdened with protecting thousands of Shi’a pilgrims travelling to northern Baghdad for a major Shi’a holiday.
Iraq’s political crisis has degenerated further as a majority of Iraqi parties, including the Kurdish parties and the Sunni Etihad bloc, have boycotted parliament sessions following the April 30 breach of the Green Zone by Sadrist demonstrators.
May 9 Update: Multiple political parties announced that they would boycott any upcoming session of the Council of Representatives (CoR). The Sunni Etihad bloc announced on May 9 that it would not attend any parliamentary session until those responsible for the April 30 protests were held accountable.