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.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made significant gains in recapturing Fallujah from ISIS, but areas recaptured in the future face the risk of instability.
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.
ISIS currently faces an unprecedented threat to its core terrain in Northern Syria from an array of competing actors. Nonetheless, the degrading position of ISIS in Northern Syria is poised to ignite further conflict. The terrain vacated by ISIS will likely host renewed competition between Syrian Kurds, opposition groups, and pro-regime forces as well as a geopolitical struggle involving Turkey, Syria, Russia, and the U.S. These conflicts could stall further progress against ISIS in Syria.
ISIS faces mounting pressure upon its stronghold of Ar-Raqqa City and its access to the Syrian-Turkish Border via Aleppo Province. The Syrian Democratic Forces successfully isolated Manbij in Eastern Aleppo Province in an operation that began on May 31. Meanwhile, Pro-regime forces advanced into Ar-Raqqa Province on June 2. These overlapping pressures forced ISIS to abandon an ongoing offensive against key opposition strongholds in Northern Aleppo Province.