Key Takeaway: Turkey’s President Erdogan is trying to coerce President Trump into shifting American support from Kurdish forces toward Turkey’s proxies in Syria, which include al Qaeda-linked elements. Erdogan may launch a new ground operation into Syria in order to create ground realities that could force the U.S.
Russia, Iran, and Syria demonstrated their enduring partnership during a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting in Moscow on April 14 to discuss their response to the recent strike by the U.S. against Shayrat Airbase in Syria on April 6. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continued to consolidate his grip around core regime terrain in Damascus and Hama City.
U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrated a new willingness to use force against the regime after conducting cruise missile strike targeting the Shayrat Airbase in Central Syria on April 6. The strikes came in response to the regime’s use of sarin gas against the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Northern Syria on April 4.
The U.S strike against an Assad regime base in northern Syria on April 6, 2017 opened the door to a reorientation of American strategy in the Middle East. President Trump’s action could reset the terms of America’s confrontation of other hostile states, such as North Korea. President Trump may be shifting away from a narrow focus on the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) as the strategic priority in Syria and toward a new approach.
By: Chris Kozak, Genevieve Casagrande, and Tom Ramage
Pro-regime basing data accurate through March 21, 2017. Syria Control of Terrain data accurate through April 3, 2017.
Al-Qaeda resumed large-scale offensive operations against the regime following a consolidation phase in Northern Syria. The U.S. accelerated its campaign to isolate and seize Ar-Raqqa City alongside the Syrian Kurdish YPG.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) slowed its advance into western Mosul on March 26 in order to regroup and prepare for an assault on the Old City, the densest part of western Mosul in terms of both population and infrastructure. The U.S. is deploying an additional 240 soldiers to Mosul, likely to support a final push through the Old City. The ISF has also slowed its operation out of continued concerns of civilian casualties throughout the western Mosul operation. Humanitarian concerns flared when local sources claimed that a Coalition airstrike on March 17 killed as many as 200 civilians. Meanwhile, Iran is deepening the role of its proxy Badr Organization in Ninewa Province to influence the post-ISIS security and political structure in the province.
The major events from March 29, 2017 in the theaters and from the trans-national groups that ISW monitors: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, and ISIS.
Regional actors are vying to dominate the post-ISIS security structure and political order in northern Iraq.
This update highlights why Russia remains an unfit partner to fight ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria.