The Islamic State has issued a statement (seen above) claiming that is fighters have seized key several towns north of the city of Aleppo. In addition, the group’s propaganda arm has released a series of photos documenting its newly-gained territory. The photos can be seen below.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization made few gains in the Aleppo province over the preceding months, as a complex multi-sided fight had prevented the “caliphate” from claiming any definitive victories. But Russia’s intervention has changed the balance of power, even if only temporarily.

It remains to be seen if the Islamic State’s surge in the province results in long-lasting territorial gains. However, the group is clearly taking advantage of the Russian-led bombing campaign in the short run. Russia has mainly focused on the insurgents opposed to both the Islamic State and the Assad regime. […]