2014 – ISIS proclaimed an Islamic state in Fallujah. After prolonged tensions, the newly formed Army of Mujahedeen, the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front launched an offensive against ISIS-held territory in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. A spokesman for the rebels said that rebels had attacked ISIS in up to 80% of all ISIS-held villages in Idlib and 65% of those in Aleppo.
2014 – ISIS announced the creation of its new Lebanese arm, pledging to fight the Shia militant group Hezbollah and its supporters in Lebanon.
2014 – During an interview with French television channel France 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of openly funding ISIS.
2013 – The Islamic State of Iraq, having expanded into Syria, changes its name, now being known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The number of wilayah—provinces—which it claimed increased to 16. In addition to the seven Iraqi wilayah, the Syrian divisions, largely lying along existing provincial boundaries, are Al Barakah, Al Kheir, Ar-Raqqah, Al Badiya, Halab, Idlib, Hama, Damascus and the Coast. In Syria, ISIS’s seat of power is in Ar-Raqqah Governorate.
2014 – Following its large-scale offensives in Iraq, ISIS had seized control of most of Mosul, the second most populous city in Iraq, a large part of the surrounding Nineveh province, and the city of Fallujah. ISIS also took control of Tikrit, the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate, with the ultimate goal of capturing Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. The militants seized control of government offices, the airport and police stations. Militants also looted the Central Bank in Mosul, reportedly absconding with US$429 million. More than 500,000 people fled Mosul to escape ISIS. Mosul is a strategic city as it is at a crossroad between Syria and Iraq, and poses the threat of ISIS seizing control of oil production.
2014 – ISIS militants captured the Iraqi city of Tal Afar in the province of Nineveh. ISIS claimed that 1,700 Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered in the fighting had been killed, and released many images of mass executions via its Twitter feed and various websites.
2014 – ISIS militants captured two key crossings in Anbar, a day after seizing the border crossing at Al-Qaim, a town in a province which borders Syria. According to analysts, capturing these crossings could aid ISIS in transporting weapons and equipment to different battlefields.
2014 – Al-Nusra Front’s branch in the Syrian town of al-Bukamal pledged loyalty to ISIS, thus bringing to a close months of fighting between the two groups.
2014 – The establishment of a new caliphate was announced, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi named as its caliph, and the group formally changed its name to the “Islamic State.” IS’s ideology originates in the branch of modern Islam that aims to return to the early days of Islam, rejecting later “innovations” in the religion which it believes corrupt its original spirit. It condemns later caliphates and the Ottoman empire for deviating from what it calls pure Islam and hence has been attempting to establish its own caliphate. From its beginnings the establishment of a pure Islamic state has been one of the group’s main goals. According to journalist Sarah Birke, one of the “significant differences” between Al-Nusra Front and ISIS is that ISIS “tends to be more focused on establishing its own rule on conquered territory”. While both groups share the ambition to build an Islamic state, ISIS is “far more ruthless … carrying out sectarian attacks and imposing sharia law immediately”. ISIS finally achieved its goal on 29 June 2014, when it removed “Iraq and the Levant” from its name, began to refer to itself as the Islamic State, and declared the territory which it occupied in Iraq and Syria a new caliphate. In mid-2014, the group released a video entitled “The End of Sykes–Picot” featuring an English-speaking Chilean national named Abu Safiyya. The video announced the group’s intention to eliminate all modern borders between Islamic Middle Eastern countries; this was a reference to the borders set by the Sykes–Picot Agreement during World War I.
2014 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the new Islamic State, said that Muslims should unite to capture Rome in order to “own the world”. He called on Muslims the world over to unite behind him as their leader.
2014 – ISIS captured Syria’s largest oilfield from rival Islamist fighters, Al-Nusra Front, who put up no resistance to the attack. Taking control of the al-Omar oilfield gave ISIS access to potentially useful crude oil reserves.
2014 – Syria’s Shaer gas field in the Homs Governorate was seized by the Islamic State. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 90 National Defence Force guards defending the field were killed, as were 21 ISIS fighters. The SOHR later put the death toll from the fighting and executions at 270 soldiers, militiamen and staff, and at least 40 ISIS fighters.
2013 – ISIS organised a mass break-out of its members being held in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Over 500 prisoners escaped, including senior commanders of the group. ISIS issued an online statement claiming responsibility for the prison break, describing the operation as involving 12 car bombs, numerous suicide bombers and mortar and rocket fire. It was the culmination of a one-year campaign called “destroying the walls”, which was launched on 21 July 2012 by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; the aim was to replenish the group’s ranks with comrades released from the prison.
2014 – ISIS blew up the Mosque and tomb of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah) in Mosul, with no reported casualties. Residents in the area said that ISIS had erased a piece of Iraqi heritage.
2014 – ISIS blew up the Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth) shrine in Mosul. Sami al-Massoudi, deputy head of the Shia endowment agency which oversees holy sites, confirmed the destruction and added that ISIS had taken artifacts from the shrine to an unknown location.
2014 – ISIS and its Al-Nusra Front allies invade Lebanon in and around the town of Arsal, sparking a five day battle between them and the Lebanese army, who push them back across the border into Syria. Over a hundred fighters are killed and scores of civilians are killed or wounded.
2014 – IS fighters occupied the city of Zumar and an oilfield in the north of Iraq, after a battle against Kurdish forces.
2013 – In the culmination of a seige on a Syrian Air base that had lasted just over a year, a final rebel assault, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) group, was launched. By this point, 70 government soldiers had remained, holding out in a small section of the complex. The attack started when two foreign suicide bombers, one of them a Saudi, drove an armored personnel carrier right up to the airport’s command center and blew themselves up, destroying the building and killing or scattering the defenders. Scattered fighting continued, however, by the morning of the next day, rebel forces had full control of the airport. During the final battle, 32 government soldiers and at least 19 rebels were killed. According to the insurgents on the morning of the final attack, 10 soldiers defected to the rebels and claimed to had attempted but failed to kill the base commander, who was later captured as he attempted to retreat with his men.
2014 – An IS offensive in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq had forced 30,000–50,000 Yazidis to flee into the mountains fearing they would be killed by the IS. They had been threatened with death if they refused conversion to Islam. A UN representative said that “a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar”.
2014 – IS fighters took control of the town of Qaraqosh in the province of Nineveh in northern Iraq, which forced its large Christian population to flee.
2014 – President Obama authorized targeted airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS, along with airdrops of aid. The UK offered the US assistance with surveillance and refuelling, and planned humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi refugees.
2014 – The US asserted that the systematic destruction of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State was genocide. The US military launched indefinite airstrikes targeting Islamic State fighters, equipment and installations, with humanitarian aid support from the UK and France, in order to protect civilians in northern Iraq. The Islamic State had advanced to within 30 km of Erbil in northern Iraq.
2014 – The US announced that it would not extend its airstrikes against the Islamic State to areas outside northern Iraq, emphasizing that the objective of the airstrikes was to protect US diplomats in Erbil. The US and the UK airdropped 60,000 litres of water and 75,000 meals for stranded refugees. The Vatican called on religious leaders of all denominations, particularly Muslim leaders, to unite and condemn the IS for what it described as “heinous crimes” and the use of religion to justify them.
2006 – The establishment of the Dawlat al-ʻIraq al-Islāmīyah, “Islamic State of Iraq” (ISI) was announced. A cabinet was formed and Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi became ISI’s figurehead emir, with the real power residing with the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri. ISI will had been through many names since its inception in early 2004, including Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the Mujahideen Shura Council. ISI will later be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and, simply, the Islamic State. The group’s original founder was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The group claimed authority over the Iraqi governorates of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Nineveh, and parts of Babil.