TOP ISIS COMMANDER PROBABLY DEAD. Pentagon officials say a key combat strategist in the Islamic State was likely killed by coalition airstrikes in Syria last week, a blow that, if true, would strike at the heart of the extremist organization. Abu Omar al-Shishani was killed near Shadadi, a town that Kurdish and Syrian forces managed to wrest from ISIS control only recently. Military officials believe that ISIS is growing more desperate to keep up morale, as someone of Shishani’s rank should normally have been in Raqqa. Shishani, who is Georgian by birth, is also known as “Omar the Chechen” and is thought to have joined ISIS in 2013.
ATTACKS IN HELMAND. The Afghan security forces suffered a significant hit Wednesday morning as Taliban forces attacked a police headquarters and an intelligence office in Helman province, the Associated Press reports. American and British forces have sent reinforcements to the region. But it continues to come under punishing Taliban attacks – and the Afghan security forces, used to more international assistance, have been losing ground.
IRAN LAUNCHES MORE BALLISTIC MISSILES. The missiles launched Tuesday were sent up for a military exercise, Iranian officials said, but American officials are still worried. U.S. officials say the ballistic missile tests are not in keeping with international sanctions against Iran’s missile activity, though they are not a violation of the nuclear pact signed in July. The Wall Street Journal reports that the surface-to-surface missiles were fired in central Iran and hit targets 435 miles away, citing Iran’s Fars news agency. U.S. officials worry Iran’s missiles could pose a threat to Israel and U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf.