Syria’s War Could Be Entering Its Last and Most Dangerous Phase by Liz Sly – Washington Post
BEIRUT - As Syria’s war enters what could be its last and most dangerous stretch, the Syrian government and its allies will have to contend for the first time with the presence of foreign troops in the quest to bring the rest of the country back under President Bashar al-Assad’s control.
The government’s recent defeat of rebels in the southwest of Syria has put Assad unassailably in control of a majority of the country, his hold on power now facing no discernible military or diplomatic threat.
But at least a third of Syria remains outside government control, and those areas are occupied both by Turkish and American troops. Turkey has deployed soldiers in the northwest, in parts of the rebel-held province of Aleppo and in Idlib, which Assad has identified as the next target of an offensive. About 2,000 U.S. Special Operations forces hold sway in the northeast, in support of their Kurdish allies fighting the Islamic State.
Iran has meanwhile entrenched its forces and allied militias alongside loyalist Syrian troops across government-held territory, stirring deep concern in Israel.
Even as the war enters its final stages, the risk that it could ignite a wider conflict has not passed, analysts say…