Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) seized large swaths of the Jabal al-Zawiya area of southern Idlib Province (in northwest Syria bordering Turkey) from Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated groups beginning in late October 2014 (see fig. 1). JN, the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, began to carve out direct territorial control in Idlib Province beginning in July 2014, and its advance in southern Idlib has considerably extended its stronghold in the province.
The significant event of the weekend is the reported targeting of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), by U.S. airstrikes.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) which include Iraqi Shi'a militias are continuing to challenge the presence and positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the Baiji area north of Tikrit in northern Iraq.
The deployment of Iraqi Shi'a militias to Anbar province to support anti-ISIS Iraqi Sunni tribes in combating ISIS is a unique and important dynamic that underscores the desperate need of anti-ISIS Anbari tribes for support.
The contest for Anbar Province in western Iraq is intensifying.
An ISIS offensive against regime military bases and infrastructure in eastern Homs province appears targeted to relieve pressure on ISIS in Deir ez-Zour by disrupting the regime’s supply lines to Deir ez-Zour city through eastern Homs Province.
Despite rapidly spreading reports that Egyptian Salafi-Jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, that does not appear to be the case. Initially reported by Reuters, other sources have run with the dubious story without further vetting the information.
ISIS escalated its attacks in the capital as Shi’a Muslims commemorated the anniversary of Imam Hussein’s death in what is known as Ashura, or the tenth day of Muharram.
ISF and Iraqi Shia militias continued the operation to retake Baiji district from ISIS.
ISIS is targeting members of the Albu Nimr tribe in Hit district in retaliation for their anti-ISIS stance.