The Syrian Civil War has gone through several phases over the course of seven years and it now appears to be entering another one. Government forces have regained control over much of Syria with Russian air support and Iranian ground forces. Only Idlib and the territories east of the Euphrates river remain out of the hands of President Assad’s regime. With the U.S. planning an imminent withdrawal from Syria, things could soon shift again.
Control over Eastern Syria is important for the government in Damascus for political and economic reasons. President Assad has on numerous occasions stated his desire to establish control over the entire Syrian territory in order to strengthen the image of a strong and stable regime. Before the war, Syria produced 387,000 barrels per day of which 140,000 bpd were exported. Most of this oil came from Eastern Syria, which is now under the control of the U.S.-backed SDF. Currently, the Syrian oil industry is a shadow of its former self due to the civil war.
A weakened IS led to government forces progressing from the west, while the SDF expelled the Islamic fundamentalists from the north. The Euphrates river has become the natural border between the SDF and the Syrian military. After a serious incursion on February 7th, 2018, during which approximately 300 Syrian soldiers and Russian mercenaries died attacking U.S. and SDF forces on the eastern shores, it has become relatively calm in the region. Related: Saudis Tread On Thin Ice As Prices Slide
The success of the SDF is a direct consequence of cooperation with Washington. The U.S. is the guarantor of security through the presence of 2,000 special forces and continuous air support.
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