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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.


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).

14:18 29.2.2016

First UN aid delivery since start of Syria truce

Some good news -- the Red Crescent says it has delivered its first consignment of humanitarian aid since the truce began on Feb. 26.

14:04 29.2.2016

U.S. Air Force vet one of first to face trial for IS support

A U.S. Air Force veteran charged with trying to join the Islamic State group is set to go on trial in New York today, one of the first of more than 75 IS-related cases brought against Americans to reach trial, Reuters report.

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 48, was detained by Turkish authorities in Istanbul in January 2015 after he returned from a year-long stint living in Egypt.

13:56 29.2.2016

Syria says Saudi foreign minister's statement an attempt to thwart truce

The Syrian government has accused Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir of trying to undermine a fragile cessation of hostilities agreement by saying there would be a "plan B" if it failed.

Jubeir said on Feb. 28 that Syria's government and its ally Russia had violated the ceasefire, and that there would be a "Plan B" if it became clear Damascus and its allies were not serious about the truce.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry source told state news agency SANA that the statements by Al-Jubeir are:

"nothing more than an echo of what his masters in Israel and the United States say, and that his talk of a “plan B” regarding the current developments in Syria is a mere delusion in the heads of the Saudi regime, because the presence of such a plan would imply that the Saudi kingdom can think and plan, while Al Saud are known to be unthinking tools in the hands of Israel and the United States who do as they are told."

SANA went on to report the source as saying that:

"Al-Jubeir’s statements constitute a violation of Security Council resolution no. 2268 and an attempt to derail the cessation of combat activities, in addition to being a dose of lies meant to raise the flagging morale of his failed pawns in Syria and a prelude to undermining the efforts for resolving the crisis in Syria."

13:50 29.2.2016

Syria ceasefire monitor - new website monitoring cessation of hostilities

A new website, the Syria Ceasefire Monitor, is aggregating sources on potential violations of the cessation of hostilities. The website is run by the Syria Campaign, a non-profit organization registered as a company in the UK.

The main source for the potential violations seems to be the Syria Civil Defense.

13:46 29.2.2016

More warnings from the Syrian opposition that the fragile cessation of hostilities could break down if the government and allied militias do not stop offensives.

13:28 29.2.2016

13:27 29.2.2016

Hizbullah Recovers Body of Senior Commander Killed in Syria

Lebanon's militant Hizbullah group has said that it has recovered the body of Ali Fayyad, known locally as Haj Alaa, a senior commander who was killed during fighting in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, The Associated Press report.

13:26 29.2.2016

Syrian opposition official says truce faces 'nullification': Al Arabiya TV

A Syrian opposition official said a fragile cessation of hostilities that took force early on Saturday faced "complete nullification" because of government attacks he said violated the agreement drawn up by the United States and Russia, Reuters reported, citing Al Arabiya TV.

Asaad al-Zoubi, head of the Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee's delegation to peace talks, said the truce had collapsed before it started, Al Arabiya al Hadath TV reported.

"We are not facing a violation of the truce... we are facing a complete nullification," he said, and "we have alternatives to protect our people" if the international community could not.

"I believe the international community has totally failed in all its experiments, and must take real, practical measures towards the regime," Zoubi said, without elaborating.

13:23 29.2.2016

Pause in Syria fighting largely holding, but some incidents: UN's Ban

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that a cessation of hostilities in Syria was largely holding but that major and regional powers were looking into some incidents that he hoped would be contained, Reuters report.

"By and large the cessation of hostilities is holding, even though we have experienced some incidents," Ban told reporters in Geneva after talks with his envoy Staffan de Mistura and before a meeting of the International Syria Support Group.

12:35 29.2.2016

NATO concerned about Russian military build-up in Syria

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that a fragile truce in Syria appeared to be largely holding but the alliance was concerned by a Russian military build-up in Syria, Reuters reports.

Stoltenberg made his comments at a news conference in Kuwait this morning. France has said that it has information about fresh attacks on zones held by moderate rebels and has called for an immediate meeting of the Syria task force.

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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.


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