Timeline of ISIL-related events (2013)

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2013 was the year in which the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) adopted that name. The group expanded its territorial control in Syria and began to do so in Iraq also, and committed acts of terrorism in both countries and in Turkey.


  • On 8 April 2013, having expanded into Syria, the group Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) adopts the name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.[1][2][3]
  • Starting in April 2013, ISIL makes rapid military gains in northern Syria, where according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, it was "the strongest group".[4]
  • 11 May: Two car bombs explode in the town of Reyhanlı in Hatay Province, Turkey. At least 51 are killed and 140 injured.[5] The attack is the deadliest single act of terrorism ever to take place on Turkish soil to date.[6] Along with the Syrian intelligence service, ISIL is suspected of carrying out the attack.[7]
  • On 5 July, units of the 33rd Infantry Division were deployed to the town of al-Dana after ISIL fighters reportedly opened fire on anti-ISIL protesters. Clashes broke out between the two groups, and resulted in ISIL beheading a commander of the 33rd Division, and taking full control of the town.[8]
  • On 9 July, the Free Syrian Army's battalion chief Kamal Hamami—better known by his nom de guerre Abu Bassir al-Jeblawi—was killed by ISIL's Coast region emir in Latakia's rural northern highlands. Al-Jeblawi was travelling to visit the al-Izz Bin Abdulsalam Brigade operating in the region when ISIL members refused his passage.[9]
  • On 22 July, ISIL organizes a mass break-out of its members being held in Iraq's prison in Taji and Abu Ghraib prison, freeing more than 500 prisoners, many of them veterans of the Iraqi insurgency (2003–11)[10][11] or senior commanders of ISIL.[12][13] ISIL described the operation as involving 12 car bombs, numerous suicide bombers and mortar and rocket fire.[12][13] It was described as the culmination of a one-year campaign which was launched by ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[14]
  • In early August the Menagh Air Base was captured by forces including ISIL, whose suicide bomber detonated car bomb at the airbase.[15]
  • In September, members of ISIL killed the Ahrar ash-Sham commander Abu Obeida al-Binnishi, after he had intervened to protect a Malaysian Islamic charity; ISIL had mistaken its Malaysian flag for that of the United States.[16][17]
  • Also in September, ISIL overran the town of Azaz, taking it from the FSA-affiliated Northern Storm Brigade.[18] ISIL had attempted to kidnap a German doctor working in Azaz.[19] In November 2013, Today's Zaman, a newspaper in Turkey, reported that Turkish authorities had detailed information on ISIL's plans to carry out suicide bombings in Turkey.[20]
  • From 30 September, several Turkish media websites reported that ISIL had accepted responsibility for the 11 May attack and had threatened further attacks on Turkey.[21][22][23][24]
  • In November, Hasan Jazra, the commander of Jabhat Ghuraba al-Sham, was publicly executed by members of ISIL in the town of Atarib. Islamist groups had accused Ghuraba of looting and collaborating at times with the Syrian government.[25]
  • In December, there were reports of fighting between ISIL and the Salafist rebel group, Ahrar ash-Sham, in the town of Maskanah, Aleppo.[26]
  • In December, ISIL began an offensive in the Anbar province in Iraq, changing the insurgency there into a regional war.[27]


  1. ^ "ISI Confirms That Jabhat Al-Nusra Is Its Extension in Syria, Declares 'Islamic State of Iraq And Al-Sham' As New Name of Merged Group". MEMRI. 8 April 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Key Free Syria Army rebel 'killed by Islamist group'". BBC News. 12 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Al-Qaeda in Iraq confirms Syria's Nusra Front is part of its network". Al Arabiya. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  4. ^ Gul Tuysuz; Raja Razek; Nick Paton Walsh (6 November 2013). "Al Qaeda-linked group strengthens hold in northern Syria". CNN. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Death toll rises to 42 as explosions hit Turkish town on border with Syria". Hürriyet Daily News. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Deadliest Terror Attack in Turkey's History Might Be Another Attempt to Derail Peace Talks? But Which One? Syria or PKK?". The Istanbulian. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  7. ^ Hacaoglu, Selcan; El Baltaji, Dana (12 May 2013). "Turkey Holds Nine Suspects in Deadly Attack Blamed on Syria". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  8. ^ Kodmani, Bassma; Legrand, Félix (14 October 2013). "Empowering the democratic resistance in Syria". Arab Reform Initiative.
  9. ^ Morris, Loveday; DeYoung, Karen (12 July 2013). "Al-Qaeda-affiliated gunmen kill Syrian rebel commander, rebels say". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Al Qaeda in Iraq Resurgent" (PDF). Institute for the Study of War. September 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Al Qaeda says it freed 500 inmates in Iraq jail-break". Reuters. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Iraq:hundreds escape from Abu Ghraib jail". The Guardian. Associated Press. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  13. ^ a b Schreck, Adam (23 July 2013). "Abu Ghraib Prison Break: Al Qaeda in Iraq Claims Responsibility for Raid". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  14. ^ Lake, Eli (29 July 2013). "Al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Ghraib Jailbreak a Counterterrorism Nightmare". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  15. ^ Malas, Nour; Abushakra, Rima (6 August 2013). "Islamists Seize Airbase Near Aleppo". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 July 2014. Accessible via Google.
  16. ^ Luca, Ana Maria (11 November 2013). "Message from Ayman al-Zawahiri". NOW News. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  17. ^ Loyd, Anthony (20 September 2013). "Will I die today? Face to face with jihadists fuelled by hate". The Australian. Retrieved 16 July 2014. Accessible via Google.
  18. ^ Burch, Jonathon; Dziadosz, Alexander (19 September 2013). "Syrian rebels, Qaeda group clash near Turkish border crossing". Reuters. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  19. ^ Al-Qaeda group and FSA declare truce as Turkey keeps Syria border gate closed Hürriyet Daily News, 19 September 2013
  20. ^ "Syrian al-Qaeda prepares to launch attack in Turkey's big cities". Today's Zaman. 4 November 2013. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Reyhanlı saldırısını El Kaide üstlendi" [Reyhanlı attack was by Al Qaeda]. Oda TV (in Turkish). 1 October 2013.
  22. ^ "Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Reyhanlı". Aydınlık. 2 October 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  23. ^ "ISIL threatens Erdoğan with suicide bombings in Ankara, İstanbul". Today's Zaman. 30 September 2013. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  24. ^ "'El Kaide, Reyhanlı'yı üstlendi' iddiası" (in Turkish). CNN Türk. 1 October 2013. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013.
  25. ^ "Battles rage around Damascus, jihadists slay rival rebel leader". The Daily Star. Beirut. 28 November 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  26. ^ Surk, Barbara (10 December 2013). "Syrian army pounds rebels near Lebanon border". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  27. ^ "Al Qaeda Is Taking Over Whole Cities in Iraq - VICE Canada". Vice.com. Retrieved 16 October 2014.