The purpose of this intelligence forecast is to outline ISW’s assessment of the courses of action available to Syrian actors and their principal benefactors over the next six months. ISW assesses that the dynamic stalemate that has defined the Syrian civil war since 2013 may be broken in this timeframe. The expansion of ISIS’s maneuver campaign into Syria’s central corridor is one potential inflection that could change the course of the war by shattering the Assad regime’s area defense strategy in western Syria.
Russian-backed separatists maintained heightened offensive operations along the front line in the week following the June 3 assault on Ukrainian forces west of Donetsk. Attacks intensified near the H20 and T1303 highways which respectively link the separatist-held capitals of Donetsk and Luhansk to the major government-controlled cities of Mariupol and Sievierodonetsk.
ISIS’s deployment of VBIEDs to Karbala and reports of ISIS’s movement of VBIEDs in Anbar suggest ISIS may be preparing for renewed offensive operations.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the “Popular Mobilization” have continued their southward advance on key infrastructure in the Thar Thar region, northwest of Fallujah, as fierce clashes and ISIS continued SVBIED attacks north and east of the city.
The purpose of this intelligence forecast is to outline ISW’s assessment of the most likely and most dangerous courses of action for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to pursue during Ramadan (June 17, 2015 to July 17, 2015). For the past three years, ISIS has conducted major offensive operations during the Ramadan holy month, accomplishing its major annual campaign objectives. Its predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), had historically also elevated violence in Iraq during Ramadan.
Russian-backed separatists launched an offensive maneuver on June 3 after several weeks of military buildup and an expansion from concentrated shelling to attacks across a coordinated front. Separatist combined arms forces stormed Ukrainian military positions bordering the western city districts of Donetsk. Ukraine’s military claimed to have repelled the initial maneuver.
ISIS attacks on Iraqi Army (IA) bases north and south of Fallujah suggest a mobile defense of its positions in Ramadi.
Russian-backed separatists launched a long-anticipated offensive maneuver on June 3 that fully severed a fraying ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. After weeks of military buildup and operational expansion along the front line, the Russian-backed forces stormed government-held military positions immediately west of the separatist stronghold of Donetsk before being driven back by Ukrainian troops.
ISIS is once again attempting to leverage Iraqi dams to force operational recalculations on the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
ISIS launched new offensives in northern Syria following its seizure of the strategic city of Palmyra and other key locations in central Syria over recent weeks.