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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.

Highlights

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).

11:39 18.11.2015

Explosions and the sound of gunshots can be heard in this AP video taken at the scene of the raids in Saint-Denis in Paris.

Explosions And Gunfire As French Police Raid Paris Apartment
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-- Joanna Paraszczuk

11:45 18.11.2015

Reuters has just reported that the raid in Saint-Denis in northern Paris are now finished, citing a police source. A French government spokesman has also confirmed that the police raids are now over, Reuters say.

AFP reported that police are still working on a security operation in the area even though the raid in Saint-Denis is over.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

12:13 18.11.2015

From our news desk:

Turkey and the United States say they will intensify operations to clear part of the Turkish-Syrian border of Islamic State (IS) militants.

"We have certain plans to terminate the [IS] presence on our border,” Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu told the state-run Anadolu Agency on November 17.

“Once these plans are finalized, our operations will intensify," he added. "You will see this in the coming days."

The IS group controls a portion of Syria's border with Turkey, allowing the group to smuggle in fighters, arms, and equipment.

"Seventy-five 75 percent of [Turkish-Syrian border] has now been shut off,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN. “And we are entering an operation with the Turks to shut off the other remaining 98 kilometers."

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

12:45 18.11.2015

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says that the identities of those arrested and killed during the seven-hour raid police raid on an apartment in Paris today are not clear, AP reports. Seven people were arrested and two suspects killed, Molins said.

Authorities are working to determine the fate of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the November 13 deadly attacks in the French capital, according to AP. Molins said the raid began after police gathered intelligence via eavesdropping on phone conversations, surveillance and witness statements that Abaaoud could be in a safe house in Saint-Denis.

12:55 18.11.2015

Mashable has created a Twitter account, @ParisVictims, to memorialize the 129 victims of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

The account is tweeting photos and sharing details of the lives of the 129 people who lost their lives in the deadly attacks. The tweets include the hashtag #enmemoire, which means "in memory" in French.

Mashable has created longer profiles of the victims on its website, with information obtained from media reports and statements put out by victims' family members and friends.

13:00 18.11.2015

France's BFM TV is reporting that the woman who died when she blew herself up with a suicide vest during the police raid in Paris today is the cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the lead suspect in the November 13 Paris attacks.

13:23 18.11.2015

Salah Abdesalam, a 26-year-old Belgian suspected of taking part in the Paris attacks, was briefly arrested in the Netherlands in February for possession of cannabis, France's RTL is reporting.

The Dutch police said that the arrest had been a "routine" traffic stop and a "limited" quantity of cannabis had been found during a search of the car. Abdesalam was allowed to continue his journey after a 70 Euro fine, the Dutch police said.

AFP reported earlier that Abdesalam was the target of the Saint-Denis police raid along with alleged Paris attacks mastermind Abdulhamid Abaaoud.

13:39 18.11.2015

French President Francois Hollande in a speech to a gathering of mayors in Paris said the raid on Saint-Denis was to "neutralize terrorists" linked to the November 13 attacks in the French capital that killed 129 people.

"We are at war...a war against a terrorism that has decided to launch a war against us," Hollande said, calling for a "large coalition" to fight the IS group, which claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks in Paris.

14:24 18.11.2015

France's RTL radio station is reporting that the female suicide bomber who blew herself up during this morning's raid on an apartment in Saint-Denis in Paris made a call before detonating her suicide vest. RTL says the information came from a police source.

14:51 18.11.2015

As French President Francois Hollande said France was committed to "destroying" the IS group following the deadly attacks in Paris last week, air strikes by France and other nations killed at least 33 IS militants in the extremist group's stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the conflict.

The strikes took place over the last three days, SOHR say.

SOHR activists say that families of IS militants have started to evacuate Raqqa for the Iraqi city of Mosul, which is also under IS control.

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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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