The Syrian war has torn the nation apart over the last two and a half years, and there is no end in sight.
The new normal involve the regime, rebels, and Kurds dominating in certain parts of the country while fighting rages on countless ever-shifting fronts.
Noria research notes that the rebels “control a majority of the territory, but the regime still rules over the majority of the population, as it keeps a hold over most of the large cities. The numerous contested areas show that the military situation remains dynamic.”
Analysts Charlies Lister and Phillip Smyth recently
discussed the war’s dynamics in Foreign Policy, detailing the
players in the proxy warand concluding that “a complex multidimensional and perpetually fluctuating and evolving sub-state conflict is set to continue.”
A closer look at the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) shows the group’s clear territorial strategy, which immediately pits it against the Kurds and more moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups.
The result has been an increasingly violent conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and an expanding al0-Qaeda reach.
Indeed, the movement, counting several thousand fighters, many of them foreigners, aims directly at taking over the border areas in the North and the most strategic points. To avoid an open confrontation with Turkey (and further the West), ISIL leaves the control of the border posts to the Free Syrian Army and Ahrar al-Sham brigades, but they take hold of the cities just few kilometers inside Syria.
In addition, [ISIL] establish check-points in the cities where they have a degree of control and in the country side (of which only the most important could be represented on the map). They surround now the most important cities of the North and are controlling the desert road between Raqqah and As-Sukhnah, through which most of the oil is convoyed to the North. Finally, ISIL spearheads the fight against the PKK (under the name of PYD in Syria) in the North. This open confrontation between two transnational armed groups is a direct contest over the control of the Turkish-Syrian border.
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