By Alexandra Gutowski and the ISW Research Team
ISIS lost significant control zones near Mosul, Raqqa, and al-Bab since October 17, 2016. Anti-ISIS forces fully encircled Mosul and penetrated the eastern side of the city. Meanwhile in Northern Aleppo, rival Kurdish-led Operation Euphrates Wrath and Turkish-backed Operation Euphrates Shield encroached on ISIS-held terrain near Raqqa and al-Bab, respectively. Operation Euphrates Wrath forces are positioned 30 km north of Raqqa as of December 8, 2016. Operation Euphrates Shield forces remain halted on the outskirts of al-Bab. Arab-Kurdish tensions in northern Syria threaten to compromise both operations. ISIS responded to its loss of terrain and to the potential loss of Mosul and Raqqa by rejuvenating attack zones throughout Iraq, notably in Baghdad, Hilla, and Samarra. On December 8, 2016, ISIS also launched an offensive in Eastern Homs. ISIS also conducted attacks in new locations including Bab al-Hawa, Syria and Darbandikhan, Iraq on December 3, 2016 and December 4, 2016 respectively, demonstrating that ISIS is still expanding its freedom of action in Iraq and Syria.