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In both Iraq and Syria there has been some progress in the fight to push back ISIS/Daesh. Fighting the extremist group in both countries remains a slow process, however.

In Syria, the situation has deteriorated sharply in recent days, as the ceasefire established in September 2016 quickly fell apart as Syrian government forces were struck accidently and a UN humanitarian convoy was destroyed.

Observers had hoped that it might be the basis for pushing ahead with negotiations on a political solution; its collapse led to airstrikes on an unprecedented scale in Aleppo, causing many civilian deaths. Aleppo may be in for a humanitarian crisis of horrifying proportions. Relations between the US and Russia over Syria are particularly frosty.

In Iraq, the Iraqi government supported by international coalition forces and Iran-backed Shiite militias has had more success in retaking territory from ISIS, and an operation to push ISIS out of Mosul is said to be imminent.

The way that ISIS is being tackled has only underlined the fact that the fundamental problems besetting Iraq are not being resolved, and could be made worse.

Pushed out of territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS may turn increasingly to mass-casualty attacks elsewhere; a string of recent atrocities in Europe made that possibility clear.

The UK continues to participate in the international military coalitions acting in Iraq and Syria, and to be among the forefront of giving humanitarian assistance to the refugee relief effort.

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