The Complex State of Play in Eastern Syria

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The territorial battle against ISIS is nearing its final stages in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, U.S. coalition-backed Iraqi forces have trapped the remaining ISIS defenders in one tiny pocket of Mosul, and in Syria, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are pushing deep into the ISIS “capital” of Raqqa. However, as victory looms, new and perhaps more dangerous battles await. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with Aron Lund, Fellow at the Century Foundation and expert on the dynamics of the Syrian war, to look at the various local and regional powers vying for influence in eastern Syria, and the risk of new conflict erupting in territories newly liberated from ISIS.

The Cipher Brief: What is the status of ISIS forces in Deir al Zour, and how important is the city to them?

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