In a newly released video showing the Islamic State’s assault on the Baiji oil refinery complex, several scenes depict the jihadist group using unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and battlefield coordination. A report in the Long War Journal stated on the 17 Apr 15. The use of drones allowed the Islamic State to gather intelligence to be used by commanders for command and control purposes, as well as act as spotters for artillery pieces. In addition to the scenes showing the use of the drones, other footage features several Islamic State commanders in an “operations control room” directing the fighting at the refinery. It is unclear what kind of unmanned aerial vehicles were employed by the group. This is not the first time the Islamic State has used drones on the battlefield. In Aug 14 the group released a video showing its forces using drones in a similar fashion at the Syrian Army’s Brigade 93 base in Raqqah province. The use of drones in this fight assisted in the takeover of the Brigade headquarter. The jihadist group has also showcased the use of drones in battles near Fallujah and Zawbaa in Iraq’s Anbar province, according to Alex Mello, an Iraq security analyst. The fighting at the Baiji oil refinery complex has been ongoing since 11 Apr 15 when the Islamic State attacked the refinery from multiple directions, according to CNN Arabic. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the facility’s gate. A jihadist ground assault team then entered the breach into the refinery complex. (For more on the initial assault, see LWJ report, Islamic State assaults Baiji oil refinery.) While the Iraqi Security Forces were able to repel the initial assault and other subsequent attacks, the Islamic State has launched several counterattacks on the complex.
Islamic State/Daesh – Al Arabiya News Channel reported on the 17 Apr 15 that Ezzat al-Douri, a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a key aide of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been killed in a wide-scale military operation The governor of Salahaddin Iraqi official confirmed the death, saying al-Douri was “mastermind of Islamic State in Iraq,” and that his killing is a blow to the group.
In a later report it was confirmed that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the last remaining Saddam Hussein henchman on the run in Iraq was killed in a military operation near Tikrit reports claimed on the 17 Apr 15. Douri served as Saddam's number two on the Revolutionary Command Council and was the "King of Clubs" card in the US military's "Deck of 55" most-wanted Iraqis. The governor of Salahuddin province announced that Douri has been killed in an area north-east of Tikrit, Saddam's home city. After the downfall of Saddam, Douri spent a decade as a fugitive, with many believing him to be dead, before re-emerging as the spiritual figurehead of a resurgent movement dedicated to restoring the Ba'ath Party to power. The Iraqi governor described Douri as the "mastermind of Islamic State in Iraq", describing his death as a blow to the jihadist group. Douri was one of Saddam's most trusted acolytes, helping to lead his 1968 coup. The US set a $10m bounty on him.
Islamic State/Daesh/Yemen – Islamic State (ISIS) in its first official announcement, declaring its presence in Yemen, has released a video in which it says that the "soldiers of the Caliphate" have arrived in the country to "cut the throats" of the Shiite Houthis it was reported on the 24 Apr 15. In the 9-minute-20-second video recorded and edited in top-notch Hollywood style, dozens of ISIS militants are seen walking across what is claimed to be the deserts close to Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. It also claims that the high-quality clip was produced by the ISIS Media in Sanaa. In the video, posted on the 24 Apr 15 the ISIS militants are seen carrying out military drills armed with AK-47 Kalashnikov Assault Rifle. Then an ISIS fighter, who appears to be the commander of the militants, thrusts an ISIS flag into the ground and declares that he will "cut the throats of all Houthis." "We have come to Yemen, with men hungry for your blood to avenge the Sunnis and take back the land they have occupied," the ISIS commander said in the video. Then he appeals all Sunni men of fighting age in Yemen to join them for the cause. The new video released by ISIS has come just a day after a new group calling itself the Islamic State's Green Brigade took responsibility for a bombing in Yemen that had allegedly killed five Shiite rebels. In a message on Twitter, the ISIS Green Brigade in Yemen claims that it had struck a vehicle of the Houthi rebels in Yarim in the central province of Ibb on the 22 Apr 15. Yemen, which has largely been under al-Qaeda influence, saw the first major ISIS attack in the city on 20 Mar 15, when the group in multiple suicide bombings targeted Houthis at Shiite mosques in Sanaa, killing 142.
Islamic State/Daesh/Iraq – Islamic State fighters ambushed an Iraqi army convoy of Humvees with a bulldozer packed with explosives, killing a commander and three of his soldiers, military officials have confirmed on the 25 Apr 15. A suicide bomber first attacked the convoy before militants opened fire, killing the Brigadier General Hassan Abbas Toufan, the commander of the Iraqi first division, a member of the division and an intelligence officer said. A colonel and two lieutenant colonels also died in the attack in the Nadhem al-Taqseem region, north of Fallujah in the Anbar province on the 24 Apr 15. Fighting has been focused on the provincial capital of Ramadi, where the government had been making slow progress. Earlier on the 24 Apr 15 the army recaptured the important al-Houz bridge over the Euphrates in western Ramadi. During the weekly Friday (24 Apr) prayer, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged the country's politicians to end all disputes in order to confront the political, economic and security challenges facing the country. 'It is important that the brothers (the politicians) should come out with final and drastic solutions for the problems,' al-Sistani's representative said during a sermon Friday in the holy Shiite city of Karbala.
Iraq/Kurdistan – A car bomb killed three people on the 17 Apr 15 outside the U.S. consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, an ally of Washington in the war against Islamic State, who claimed the attack. No U.S. personnel were hurt in the blast, according to the U.S. State Department, which said a “vehicle-borne improvised explosive device” exploded right outside the entrance to the heavily fortified compound. Kurdistan is an important partner for the U.S.-led coalition in its campaign to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State group. The head of security for Ankawa said three people were killed and 14 injured. “They (Islamic State) want to show they are present,” Sherzad Farmand said.
Jordon – Three suicide car bombs exploded at a border crossing between Iraq and Jordan on the 25 Apr 15 killing four soldiers, a witness and an Iraqi border police source said, in an attack claimed shortly afterwards by Islamic State, APA reports quoting Reuters. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in a video, saying it had targeted a government complex, control point for the border crossing, and army patrol, according to monitoring group SITE. A Jordanian official said his government had responded by stepping up security measures at the Tureibil crossing, while an Iraqi defence ministry spokesman said Baghdad would investigate the assault.
The Green Battalion (Arabic: الكتيبة الخضراء, al-Katiba al-Khadra) was a jihadist group that had been active during the Syrian Civil War. Formed in 2013 by a group of Saudi veterans of the Iraq War and Afghanistan war, the group fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against Syrian government forces, while remaining independent and neutral in the dispute between ISIL and other groups. The group announced on 25 July 2014 that it became part of the Supporters of the Religion Front. The group claimed allegiance to Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar around October of 2014. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Battalion)
Lebanon – Lebanon’s Shia militant group, Hizbollah, has built a remote airstrip to fly Iranian-made drones over Syria, new satellite images suggest and reported on the 24 Apr 14. The airstrip in the northern Bekaa Valley was built sometime between February 2013 and June 2014, according to analysis by the magazine IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. The strip around 10 miles west of the Syrian border was spotted on satellite images that recently became available on Google Earth. The single unpaved strip, which is around 730 yards long, is unlikely to be a smuggling route for weapons shipments because it is too short to take transport planes, said the magazine’s Nicholas Blanford. It may instead be built for Iranian-made unmanned aircraft, including the Ababil-3, which has been employed over Syria by Bashar al-Assad's allies, and possibly the newer and larger Shahed-129, he said. Hizbollah has reportedly confirmed it is using drones to back regime operations against rebel forces in Syria, particularly over the mountainous Qalamoun region on Lebanon's eastern border. The strip also features an antenna and six buildings. Iran's Ababil, or Swallow, surveillance drone has a flying range of around 60 miles and a top speed of 125mph, the country's state media said last year. It can fly to a height of 5,000m "and enjoys a high photography and imaging technology" it was reported.
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia during the reporting period placed its security forces on alert for a possible militant attack on a shopping mall or energy installation, interior ministry spokesman Mansour Turki said on the 20 Apr 15. "There was information about a possible act targeting a mall or Aramco installations. The information was passed on to the security forces to be on alert." Turki said he had no further information about the threat.
Yemen – At least 46 people have been killed in the Yemeni capital after Saudi-led air strikes targeted a suspected weapons base held by Houthi fighters it was reported on the 21 Apr 15. Iran's Foreign Ministry said it was summoning Saudi Arabia's envoy to Tehran after windows at its embassy were shattered by the blast. Indonesia, whose embassy is nearby, also condemned the strikes. The targeted base belonged to the missile brigade of the elite Republican Guard, an army unit which was loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The location may have targeted the base over fears that Houthi fighters could use scud missiles at the base to target the kingdom. The Saudis are afraid that if these missiles are taken near the border they will inflict damage there. If modified they [scud missiles] can reach hundreds of kilometres in distance. The US said it was deploying the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the waters off Yemen to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthis.