With ISIS suffering one of its largest defeats to date during the YPG’s Tel Abyad offensive, many feared the terrorist group would mount a deadly counterattack in response. Unfortunately these fears were well founded, and during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ISIS struck back hard, not just in their strongholds of Syria and Iraq, but also on a global scale against a number of soft targets.
Kobane, Syria – 300+ dead
The largest attack during ISIS’s Ramadan offensive was against the Kurdish city of Kobane. On June 25, ISIS fighters reappeared in the centre of the city, detonating a suicide car bomb (SVBIED) near the border gate with Turkey and then spreading throughout the city, massacring civilians as they went. While the exact number of fighters is unknown, they likely numbered between 50 and 100 based on YPG reports. Indeed it took days of fighting and several coalition airstrikes to fully secure the city once more.
When the dust had settled more than 300 people, mostly civilians, lay dead and people were left wondering where the fighters came from. One line of thought is that they crossed into Syria from Turkey, with some pro-Kurdish sources alleging that this was facilitated by the Turkish Government. The other line of thought is that the fighters infiltrated into YPG-controlled territory from Jarabulus disguised as allied FSA troops.
Hasakah, Syria – 100+ dead
Concurrent to their attack on Kobane, ISIS also made a massive push into the city of Hasakah in north-eastern Syria. This city is jointly controlled by the YPG and the Assad regime, however the ISIS attacks were mainly concentrated against the regime-held south of the city. There, the terrorist group pushed deep into the city, forcing regime-aligned NDF units to retreat, ceding territory to the YPG.
Reacting to these losses, the Syrian Government deployed elite troops to the city in order to stabilize the front. These deployments were partially successful, however as of right now fighting is ongoing and ISIS is continuing to advance slowly in several neighbourhoods.
Sousse, Tunisia – 38 dead
One day later, ISIS horrified the world with an attack in the city of Sousse, Tunisia targeting foreign tourists. A lone ISIS gunman approached the Riu Imperial Marhaba Resort from the beach, opening fire on the mostly British tourists who were sunbathing there. Over the course of several minutes of carnage, the gunman managed to kill 38 people, before he himself was killed by the police. Several days after the attack it was also revealed that the gunman had trained in Libya alongside fellow ISIS fighters who attacked the Bardo Museum in Tunis earlier in the year.
Kuwait – 27 dead On the same day, at roughly the same time, ISIS attacked yet another soft target. This time the group attacked the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City, packed with up to 2000 worshippers during Friday prayers. An ISIS suicide bomber attacked the Shia mosque with explosives, killing himself and 27 other people, including nationals from Iran and India. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was part of their campaign against Shiite Muslims.
Sinai, Egypt – 100+ dead
Finally on June 1, ISIS’s Egyptian affiliate ‘Wiliyaat Sinai’ (The Province of Sinai) conducted a large-scale and complex against the Egyptian Army. Primarily, a group of tens of fighters attacked the town of Sheikh Zuweid, close to the border with Israel and Gaza, detonating car bombs against military checkpoints before besieging the town’s police HQ. In addition, separate groups of fighters carried out attacks in the nearby city of Rafah.
The Egyptian Government response was slowed by IEDs, however by evening their airpower and ground forced had forced ISIS out of Sheikh Zuweid, at a very heavy cost. Following the fighting, the Egyptian Government claimed to have killed more than 100 ISIS fighters, a claim it backed up with gory photos of their bodies. This being said, the total death toll from this attack is still unclear, with no reliable estimates of the civilian and military casualties caused by ISIS.