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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.


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).

16:52 29.2.2016

Death toll in Iraq suicide bombing has risen to 24

The death toll in this afternoon's suicide bombing north of Baghdad has risen to 24, Reuters is reporting, citing police and hospital sources. The number of wounded is 55, the sources say.

The attack tool place at a funeral for a Shi'ite militia fighter in Muqdadia in Diyala province.

16:46 29.2.2016

'At least 14' dead, 45 wounded in Iraqi suicide bombing at funeral

The Associated Press has more on the reports that a suicide bomber has targeted a funeral north of Baghdad, causing multiple casualties.

Local security officials are now saying that at least 14 people were killed in the attack, including a local leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Shi'ite militia. Another 45 people have been wounded.

The attack happened in Muqdadiyah, about 90 km north of Baghdad.

No group has yet claimed responsibility but IS bombed a cafe in Muqdadiyah in January that set off a wave of revenge attacks on Sunni mosques and civilians in Iraq.

16:40 29.2.2016

U.S. warns citizens to be ready to leave Iraq if IS-controlled Mosul dam collapses

The United States warned its citizens to be ready to leave Iraq in the event of what it has said could be a catastrophic collapse of the country's largest hydro-electric dam near Mosul.

The United States said the IS-controlled dam faces "unprecedented" risk of a "catastrophic failure" that would unleash a wave of water which could flatten cities and kill hundreds of thousands within hours.

The IS group, which controls Mosul, captured the dam in August 2014, raising fears they might blow it up. If the dam is breached, U.S. officials estimate that Mosul could be inundated with up to 21 meters of water within hours.

16:36 29.2.2016

Bomb kills 18 at Iraq funeral

At least 18 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a funeral north east of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, officials have said.

There has as yet been no claim of responsibility for the attack or further details about the victims.

16:33 29.2.2016

Turkey's Erdogan says Syria ceasefire doesn't cover all of Syria, should be expanded

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the Syrian ceasefire covered only one third of the country and he hoped it would be expanded to encompass all of it.

16:08 29.2.2016

Turkey strikes IS inside Syria: report

The Turkish military has struck IS positions to the north of Aleppo inside Syria with artillery, Turkish broadcaster NTV reports.

15:36 29.2.2016

Russia 'trying to create conditions for normalization of Syria' -- Ryabkov

Russia's airstrikes in Syria are intended to create the conditions for the normalization of the situation in Syria and the start of a political process run by the Syrian people themselves, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

"We are now at a stage where many in the international community are aware that all Moscow's actions, including the start and the conducting of an anti-terrorism and military operation by the Russian air force, was in fact intended to create the conditions for the normalization of that country, to crush the terrorist threat and the create the conditions for that country to start a political process, the owners of which would be the Syrians themselves, without attempts to dictate any kind of plans from the outside," Ryabkov said.

15:30 29.2.2016

Russia thinks Syria crisis can't be resolved without Assad

Russia believes that the crisis in Syria cannot be resolved without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

"Syria's future must be decided by the Syrians themselves," Ryabkov said.

"Russia, as we know, has sought to launch a political process since 2012, despite efforts to derail our attempts. We regret that Washington time and time again has signaled that there is no place for the current President of Syria. We think that this place should be decided by the Syrian people themselves."

15:27 29.2.2016

Russia says Syria could become a federal state

Syria could become a federal state, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

"I cannot judge the chances of the creation in Syria of a federal state, because the process that should lead to the definition of the parameters of a future Syria has not yet begun," Ryabkov said.

"If as the result of negotiations and consultations discussing the future structure of Syria, the participants in the discussions -- which we hope [Staffan] de Mistura will renew in the near future -- come to a united view that this model is suitable for them and will safeguard the task of maintaining a unified, secular, independent and sovereign Syria, then who could argue against that?"

15:19 29.2.2016

First aid since truce delivered to Syria's Moadamiyah al-Sham

AFP has more on the reports that the first aid deliveries since the Syrian ceasefire came into effect at the weekend have been delivered to besieged areas of Syria.

Syrian Arab Red Crescent official Muhannad al-Asadi said that 10 trucks of aid including blankets, sanitary pads, soap and laundry detergent had been delivered to the besieged rebel-held town of Moadamiyah al-Sham southwest of Damascus.

Another 41 trucks are set to enter the town today, al-Asadi 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.


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