A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Syrian Situation

Several days into the quasi-ceasefire (officially, the "cessation of hostilities") in Syria, the fragile truce is holding despite multiple accusations of violations. The fact that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are excluded from the cessation has meant that US strikes against ISIS and Russian strikes against both ISIS and Nusra have continued unabated.

One irony is that, as the Presidential candidates in the US argue over who would be most effective against ISIS, ISIS is steadily losing territory. In Iraq estimates say it lost 40% of its territory on 2015, and in Syria 20%.

Following the capture of Ramadi,  Iraqi and Kurdish forces are preparing, with the help of US air power and allied militias, for the hard challenge of recapturing Mosul.In Syria and Iraq both, Kurdish forces have largely cut ISIS' supply lines from Turkey. Both the YPG from the north and the pro-regime alliance in the Aleppo area seem to be maneuvering for a campaign against the ISIS capital at Raqqa. I'm not saying there is light at the end of the tunnel, Mosul and Raqqa are not yet directly hreatened, but ISIS seems a far less potent threat than it did last year.

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