The Messy Fight to Come in Northern Iraq and Syria

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The territorial battle against ISIS is nearing its final stages in Iraq and Syria. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already declared that the ISIS caliphate has fallen 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 Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center, about competing claims to the Iraqi-Syrian border – especially in northern Iraq – and what new conflicts could follow ISIS’ fall.

The Cipher Brief: What is the current status of forces in northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq? Who are the major military players and how well are they positioned to compete, particularly in the area surrounding Sinjar in northern Iraq?

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