As ISIS Falters, Syrian Regime and US Allies Maneuver for Advantage by Maria Abi-Habib, Raja Abdulrahim and Nathan Hodge – Wall Street Journal
In the last Syrian province largely under Islamic State control, U.S.-backed forces are on a collision course with the Syrian and Russian militaries as both sides scramble to strengthen their hands ahead of postwar negotiations.
The contest for territory is playing out in Deir Ezzour, an oil-rich province where Islamic State has fought to protect its revenue streams and preserve what remains of its rapidly shrinking caliphate.
The Damascus-based Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, wants Deir Ezzour’s resources to repair a shattered economy and replenish its coffers by exporting oil. It could also help Tehran establish a route over land to Beirut to support its Lebanese allies.
The U.S.-backed forces, who are led by Kurds, are also fighting Islamic State but wary of giving ground to the Syrian regime. Kurdish leaders want to use the province’s wealth as a bargaining chip that could help them secure greater autonomy in Syria…