Political and security risk updates from Open Briefing and Bradburys Global Risk Partners. Nigerian forces on high alert following increase in frequency of Boko Haram operations in Borno State, European Union and United States impose additional sanctions on Russia, Syrian army regains control of Halfaya from al-Nusra Front, and more.
Barrel bombs are a type of IED dropped from a helicopter or cargo aircraft. It is estimated that 5-6,000 such bombs have been dropped by the Syrian military since the uprising began, killing at least 20,000 people. This intelligence brief explores the reasons behind the Syrian government's use of these improvised devices and assesses whether targeting helicopter manufacturers or spare-part suppliers might be an effective strategy for international NGOs wishing to put pressure on the Syrian government to end its use of these weapons.
Open Briefing: Turkey is highly likely to seek a leading diplomatic role as the end of the Bashar al-Assad regime appears more likely but is unlikely to shut its border with Syria and highly unlikely to be involved in military action on Syrian territory.
Open Briefing: It is highly likely that missing US journalist Austin Tice was captured by Syrian military forces and, if still alive, is likely still in government custody. However, it is impossible to assess with any confidence his current location or condition.
Open Briefing: A video purportedly showing missing freelance journalist Austin Tice has been posted on YouTube. Our analysis concludes that this is Tice but irregularities suggest the video might have been staged by Syrian government forces.