These are the major events from March 01, 2017 in the theaters and from the trans-national groups that ISW monitors: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, and ISIS.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) isolated Mosul completely on March 1 as units advanced within the city towards the government center. The Popular Mobilization are nearing Tel Afar from the west and could breach the city in the coming weeks.
ISIS could be facing difficulty coordinating successful attacks in Iraq as losses in Mosul are forcing it to transform from a governing to guerrilla style terrorist organization.
ISIS launched offensives against the Syrian regime in Deir ez Zour, eastern Homs province, and eastern Damascus province in January 2017, exploiting the regime’s focus on Aleppo and attempting to offset or divert regime operations near al-Bab. Regime forces began to reverse ISIS’s gains in Homs province on February 14. ISIS lost additional territory in Mosul to the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition in early 2017. ISIS also lost al-Bab, Syria to Turkish-backed Operation Euphrates Shield on February 23.
The U.S. cannot drive a wedge between Russia and Iran in the near term. Tehran and Moscow share regional and global interests across the Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus, and Central Asia. Their common interests and overarching objective of expelling the U.S. from the Middle East will likely bind Iran and Russia together into an enduring partnership.
The Syrian Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have seized the majority of ISIS-held territory in the eastern countryside of ar-Raqqah and is positioned to complete the isolation of the city in coming months. The U.S.’s main partners in Syria, the SDF and Turkey, are competing to lead the next phase of operations to seize ar-Raqqah City and thereby solidify their influence over post-ISIS governance.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) recaptured the Mosul Airport and Ghazlani military base on February 24 from where they advanced into neighborhoods in western Mosul.