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Live Blog: Tracking Islamic State

Follow all of the latest developments as they happen.


A woman rests near rubble in the Syrian town of Darat Izza in Aleppo Province on February 28.

A woman rests near rubble in the Syrian town of Darat Izza in Aleppo Province on February 28.

Summary

Latest News For February 29

-- The United States Army's elite Delta Force is on the verge of beginning operations to target, capture or kill top IS operatives in Iraq, after several weeks of covert preparation, an administration official with direct knowledge of the force's activities told CNN.

-- Syrian government forces have regained control of a road used by the army to access Aleppo, after making advances against Islamic State fighters, a monitoring group and state television reported.


-- Authorities in Iraq say the death toll from a double bombing at a market in Baghdad’s Shi’ite neighborhood of Sadr City rose to 73 on February 29 after several critically wounded victims died overnight.

-- Tajik media are reporting that a woman known to be the second wife of Gulmurod Halimov, the fugitive Tajik colonel who defected to the IS group, has left for Syria along with the couple's four young children.

-- The UN is poised to begin delivering aid to people living in besieged areas of Syria, making use of a truce brokered by the United States and Russia. The first deliveries are planned for Feb. 29, with aid due to reach about 150,000 Syrians in besieged areas over the next five days.

-- A truce negotiated between Syrian rebels and the government has caused a dramatic decrease in airstrikes around rebel-held territory, but there were few celebrations, with many residents suspecting a trick, CNN report.

* NOTE: Live blog posts are time-stamped according to Central European Time (CET).

19:03 29.2.2016

Syria ceasefire brings respite to overworked medics

In Syria's second city Aleppo, rescue workers have been taking advantage of the quiet to play football outside. For the first time in years, they have no one to save, AFP reports.

Doctors and emergency workers in war-ravaged Syria typically work around the clock in fraught conditions to provide life-saving care to the wounded.

Since the conflict erupted in 2011, volunteers have been pulling civilians from the rubble after air strikes and treating victims of shelling and sniper fire practically non-stop.

"There were days we would get 50 calls in each of our 114 emergency call centres across Syria," says Abdelrahman, a spokesman for the White Helmets.

18:58 29.2.2016

Syrian army takes land east of Damascus during fragile truce

Syrian armed forces have taken control of a strategically important piece of land between two neighborhoods in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, on the third day of a fragile truce.

18:14 29.2.2016

Turkey hit as many as 10 IS targets on Feb. 28: military official

CNN Turk has just tweeted that a Turkish military official says Turkish artillery hit as many as 10 IS targets in Syria on Feb. 28, according to local sources near the town of Azaz in northern Aleppo province.

17:39 29.2.2016

Fearing bombardment, W. Aleppo residents tell Nusra to 'get out'

Residents of rebel-held Atareb in Western Aleppo have "no confidence" in the ceasefire, a local citizen journalist told Syria Direct today.

The comments come a day after dozens of demonstrators in Atareb called for fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate the Al-Nusra Front to "get out" in order to avoid attracting Syrian government and Russian bombardment, Syria Direct report.

17:34 29.2.2016

Curfew imposed in Iraq to prevent reprisals after suicide bombing

After a suicide bombing that killed at least 23 people -- Reuters put the figure at 27 dead -- in the Iraqi town of Muqdadiyah earlier today, the local council has reportedly imposed a curfew to prevent reprisal attacks.

The bombing targeted the funeral of the relative of a Shi'ite militia man.

17:31 29.2.2016

British air strikes in Syria aren't pushing back IS, ministers admit

The IS group is not being pushed back in Syria despite the extension of British air strikes to the country, ministers have admitted, The Independent reports.

UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told MPs that the situation in Syria was “complicated” and that recent events on the ground had concerned the government.

“In Syria the position is much more complicated [than in Iraq] and we are concerned at some of the more recent reports that may suggest coordination between [the Kurdish-led] Syrian Democratic Forces and the Assad regime, which is not helpful to the long-term aim of defeating [IS],” Fallon said.

17:28 29.2.2016

U.S. expects to give Iraq more support for Mosul fight - defense chief

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said that the U.S.-led coalition fighting the IS group expects to provide Iraqi forces with additional types of support during the battle to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul.

According to Carter, U.S. forces also expected to provide additional types of support that were offered for the fight to oust IS from the Iraqi city of Ramadi, but were not needed, such as logistics and bridging.

17:09 29.2.2016

Turkey 'shells IS positions' in Syria

AFP has more details on the earlier reports that Turkey has shelled IS positions inside Syria.

The Dogan news agency is reporting that Turkish artillery fired 50-60 shells from Howitzers positioned in the southern region of Kilis against IS positions in northern Aleppo province.

The shelling was in coordination with the U.S.-led coalition against IS.

17:04 29.2.2016

Iraq suicide bombing death toll rises again to at least 27

Reuters latest report is saying that at least 27 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a funeral for the relative of a Shi'ite militia commander in Diyala in eastern Iraq this afternoon.

Security officials and police in Diyala said the target of the attack was two local commanders of the Hashid Shaabi umbrella group of Shi'ite militias who were attending the funeral ceremony for one of their relatives.

"The suicide attacker approached the local Hashid commanders and then blew his vest up, killing both with many others," said one police major on condition of anonymity. A further 55 people were wounded, the sources said.

16:56 29.2.2016

Movement on key Aleppo supply road has been restored, source tells RIA

The Syrian army and pro-government militias have fully restored movement on the Khanaser-Aleppo supply road, which had been blocked by the IS group, a military source has told Russia's RIA Novosti.

The road is the only route linking Aleppo to other provinces, and is nicknamed the "lifeline," the source said.

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About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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