TLDRUpFront: A Russian fighter jet has been shot down in rebel-held northwestern Syria near Idlib. Idlib is south of where Turkey has intervened against the Kurds in Afrin and it is not likely these events are related. Idlib has been under the control of Al-Nusra, an Al-Queda affiliated emerging-state actor for several years. According
TLDRUpFront: In the last forty-eight hours three cities have officially changed hands in three different countries on opposite sides of the planet. The fall of Ar-Raqqah in Syria, liberation of Marawi in the Philippines and seizure of Kirkuk in Iraq are a Dickens menagerie representing the ghosts of ISIS past, ISIS present and post-ISIS future
(INS) Awooga! Awooga! The largest Al-Queda affiliate, the Al-Nusra front in Syria, is being widely reported as having “split off” or “declared independence” from Al-Queda renaming itself the Levant Conquest Front. With nearly 15,000 militants and territory in Idlib province under their direct control, Al-Nusra has adopted elements of ISIS’s emerging-state actor approach. It is
TLDR Upfront: In light of the Paris attacks for those who want to (rightfully) avoid the fallacy of generalizations (1) in describing the attackers I recommend using the term "Salafist Takfiri" to *specifically* describe militant members of groups such as AQ, ISIS, AQAP, Boko Haram etc. who share a common set of behaviors and beliefs.
TLDR Up Front: Although Aleppo has been the Sarajevo of Syria since 2012, it's forming into just such a battle as no less than six distinctly separate major forces converge onto the city from all sides. This is creating a "swirling" effect visible on the map as each group takes, loses and retakes ground. Except