Military Areas of Control in the Waning Days of Islamic State by Philip Issa, Associated Press
The Islamic State group is in retreat across Syria and Iraq, and the contours of a new conflict among the array of parties battling it are already starting to appear.
The U.S. military shot down a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, saying it had targeted an American-allied Kurdish force that is battling the extremists in their de facto capital, Raqqa. That led Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, to warn that it would target U.S.-led coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates River.
Another front is shaping up on the ground below, with Assad’s forces, which are also battling the Islamic State group, reaching the Iraqi border in the distant east. There they appear set to link up with Iranian-backed militias, establishing a vital land corridor from Damascus to Tehran.
The latest events are unfolding in Syria’s remote east, far from the main battles of the civil war, which is still raging despite a largely ignored “de-escalation” plan brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey…