Today, the world is again on edge after Islamic State (IS) militants attacked a Syrian border town with a barrage of suicide car bombs that killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more, the latest in a string of attacks across the region.
The group has been making advances in northern Syria, where they have seized the vast Al-Tanf desert region from government forces.
However, the advance has stalled amid intense air strikes and air strikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes.
The US-led coalition launched a large air campaign against the IS in Syria and Iraq in December 2015, and has since intensified the campaign, targeting the militants’ main stronghold, Raqqa.
The coalition has also deployed thousands of ground troops to the region, but the US has not formally announced a new target for that force, saying that it is too early to make a decision.
IS has used suicide car bombings as a tactic in the past, as have other armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
However the group is now targeting civilians, often with car bombs, which are more difficult to destroy and more deadly.
The IS group has used a number of suicide attacks as well.
Last month, a suicide car bomb in northern Iraq killed at first seven people, including three children.
In December, a bomb exploded in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing more than 60 people.
And last month, suicide bombers targeted a military base in the Syrian town of Tal Afar, killing at least 29 soldiers and wounding at least 40 others.
The attack came after IS launched a number, including a suicide attack on a military checkpoint in Tal Afuar in January that killed five soldiers.
IS also targeted the US embassy in Baghdad, where the US and other countries have been providing humanitarian aid and providing intelligence about the group’s activities in Iraq.
A spokesman for the US Embassy in Baghdad said the embassy was “working closely with Iraq to protect the embassy and its staff and the public.”
In Syria, the IS group is facing an assault on the city of Palmyra from the Syrian regime.
The Syrian government has long claimed that the IS offensive there is aimed at retaking the historic city of Tadmur, which the group captured from the government in 2015.
But Syrian opposition groups have said the government is attempting to recapture Palmyra through an offensive known as “Day of Sacrifice,” which involves destroying Palmyra’s ancient ruins.
On Friday, IS militants launched a wave of suicide bomb attacks in Palmyra, destroying ancient ruins, killing civilians and destroying government buildings.
IS is also continuing its attacks in the province of Homs, where it seized large parts of a strategic highway, a key route for the movement of weapons, and destroyed several checkpoints.