Militant forces backed by the United States and opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are preparing to make a final push to drive the Islamic State out of its last stronghold. There are several indicators that make this push significantly important.
According to published reports, ISIS forces are currently besieged on all sides in the border province of Deir al-Zour. They are battling back against offensives launched by competing forces and nearly every major group that has fought in the six-year civil war is thought to be involved.
Syrian Democratic Forces, which is a Kurdish-dominated militia supported by a U.S.-led coalition of airstrikes, said earlier this week they planned to clear the ISIS militants from ground east of the Euphrates River in what is being called “Operation Jazeera Storm. The offensive is expected to be launched in the Khabur River valley. [source]
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces are also on the move eastward and are closing in on the same region, retaking lost ground in the process. But other factions, including Iran proxy Hezbollah, also have an interest in this region because it is rich with oil.
The end of ISIS is now not only feasible, it’s being planned on as various factions jockey for influence in a post-ISIS Syria. This includes Syrian rebel groups and Hezbollah, but also Russia, Iran, and even Israel. What’s more, it’s not clear that the U.S. is prepared for the endgame.
See the rest of our analysis on this and other key potential conflict zones in this week’s Strategic Intelligence Summary, out on Friday. To subscribe for just pennies a day, click here.