ISIS lost terrain in Iraq but claimed an attack from a new governorate, Wilayat Sahel, on the northwestern coast of Syria deep in regime territory. ISIS militants launched complex suicide attacks in core regime territory in Tartus City and Jableh on May 23, 2016. ISIS will likely escalate attacks against Alawite communities on the Syrian Coast in order to exacerbate sectarian tensions during Ramadan.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Popular Mobilization, and tribal fighters launched a major operation to retake Fallujah on May 23. The joint force quickly recaptured northern terrain on the first day, including Garma District, a historic hotbed for Sunni extremists including ISIS’s predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq.
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.