ISIS’s affiliates in Libya and Pakistan gained new supporters and expanded attack zones in December 2015. ISIS’s largely dormant affiliates in Algeria and Russia’s North Caucasus region also conducted rare attacks, potentially signaling a renewal of ISIS activity in those areas. Each of these affiliate campaigns give ISIS resiliency outside of Iraq and Syria.
The tempo of Russian air operations slowed considerably from January 4 - 7. ISW was only able to confirm 17 locations of Russian airstrikes during the reporting period, the lowest volume of Russian strikes since early October 2015. The cause of this decrease currently remains unclear; as the lull may have been caused by changing weather conditions, shifts in Russian posturing inside Syria, or deferred maintenance activities following several weeks of heavy Russian airstrikes.
The ISF made significant gains in Ramadi in December, clearing much of the city center and recapturing the government complex on December 28.
Russia heightened its confrontation with the U.S. and its allies beyond conventional military aggression, conducting information, economic, and possible cyber operations. President Vladimir Putin instituted a new national security strategy outlining Russia’s primary security objectives and threats. Russia accused the U.S. and its partners of conducting multimodal warfare in an effort to contain Russia’s resurgence as a great power, a core objective in its updated strategy. Moscow also suggested that U.S.
Key Takeaway: The ongoing Vienna process will likely fail to end the Syrian Civil War because it does not provide adequate incentives to Syria’s powerful armed opposition factions to lay down arms. The Vienna process relies on agreements made between international powerbrokers independent from the demands of both pro- and anti-regime Syrian factions.