Since the publication of ISW’s last sanctuary map on May 25th, 2016, ISIS militants lost control of the city of Fallujah but were able to launch spectacular attacks in Lebanon and on the Jordanian border. ISIS continues to lose territory in Iraq, and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are threatening its last major supply route from ar-Raqqa City to the Syrian-Turkish border. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) cleared the city of Fallujah with support from coalition airstrikes on June 26, 2016. The presence of Iranian proxy militias in Fallujah, however, will negatively affect government efforts toward Sunni reconciliation. Meanwhile, the ISF began to approach Shirqat, the last ISIS-held district in Salah al-Din Province, on June 18, 2016.
The U.S.-backed New Syrian Army (NSA) began operation “Day of Wrath” to seize the ISIS-held town of Albu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border in order to cut off ISIS supply lines between Iraq and Syria on June 29, 2016. The SDF, a coalition consisting of the Syrian Kurdish YPG and allied opposition groups, completed the encirclement of Manbij on June 10, 2016 and are conducting ongoing operations to retake the town from ISIS militants. ISIS’s loss of Manbij would impede its foreign fighter flows by sealing the Syrian-Turkish border. The U.S. has stressed the importance of retaking Manbij as part of larger operations to isolate and eventually seize the ISIS stronghold of ar-Raqqa City.
Despite losses in its core terrain, ISIS was able to launch two separate quadruple SVEST (suicide vest) attacks targeting the predominately Christian al-Qaa District of Bekaa valley, in northeastern Lebanon near the Syrian-Lebanese border on June 27, 2016, the day after the ISF cleared Fallujah. ISIS also detonated a SVBIED (suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) against a Jordanian Army border post in a buffer zone on the Syrian-Jordanian border on June 21, 2016. ISW’s ISIS Forecast: Ramadan 2016 assessed that ISIS will likely mount attacks in neighboring countries as it loses momentum in Syria during Ramadan, which ends on July 5. www.mesop.de