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Taking ISIS Territory is Necessary but not Sufficient

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
March 8 · Issue #28 · View online

MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

Key developments
  • Northern Syria: In a way that can be hardly surpassed in terms of absurdity, Turkish-backed rebels fight against the YPG, a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia that cooperates both with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow.
  • In this context, the YPG has handed over territory west of the city of Manbij — which it had captured supported by the US — to regime troops in order to create a bufferzone and stop the pro-Turkish advance.
  • The Assad regime recaptured the city of Palmyra with the help of Iran-led militias, Russian airstrikes and also US airstrikes. 
  • For this reason, some observer noted that the US is ready to cooperate with Assad and his backers. However, in my point of view, what happened in Palmyra and also in Manbij where US forces showed presence is a result of Trump’s efforts to present success in the fight against the Islamic State and accordingly limited. Needless to say that this strategy is short-sighted. 
  • The YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) cut off the highway between Raqqa and the Islamic State’s stronghold of Deir al-Zor province. Therefore, the jihadist’s de facto capital is kinda isolated.
  • A Syrian military aircraft has crashed near the Syrian/Turkish border. The pilot is alive and has been taken into custody by Turkish authorities. The question of his fate is interesting: Will Turkey just send him back to Syria? Or will he be regarded as a war criminal? Turkey wants to clarify all details of the incident before making a decision.
Articles worth reading
What Palmyra tells us about US policy in Syria
Turkey's 'wall of shame' on Syria border goes unnoticed
Rival Kurdish factions clash in northwestern Iraq
Syria’s Former al-Qaeda Affiliate Is Leading Rebels on a Suicide Mission
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