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The international coalition and other forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria have taken ‘well over half’ of the territory that ISIS held at its peak. Much of Mosul has been retaken, but ISIS remain in control of significant areas and the fighting is difficult.

Attention is now turning to the ISIS ‘capital’ al-Raqqa, in Syria. The fight here is being led by the Kurdish YPG in charge of a multi-ethnic force.

The Trump Administration intends to speed up the anti-ISIS campaign, although there has been no large extra contingent of troops.

NATO has now officially become a member of the coalition.

Syrian opposition forces are still being trained by both the US and the UK, while US special forces are helping Kurdish forces in Syria.

There are about 1,350 UK personnel based in the region supporting the campaign in Iraq and Syria. UK personnel are not deployed in a combat role. The RAF is operating at a tempo not seen since the first Gulf War – more than 1000 airstrikes had been carried out by February 2017, making the UK the second largest contributor to the air campaign against ISIS.

Many analysts now think that President Assad will remain in power for the foreseeable future.

A conflict reduction agreement, negotiated in Astana and with similarities to the US/Russian ceasefire effort of September 2016, was agreed between Russia, Iran and Turkey in December 2016. It is being widely ignored, however.

With the immediate threat to the Assad government eliminated, commentators suggest that the prospects for a general de-escalation may have improved, although not on terms that Western countries would have preferred. The Astana process could be the basis for progress.

The Syrian government still does not have the resources to hold all of the territory of Syria, however. Resistance to the government is likely to continue in the north (Kurds) in the east (ISIS) and in the south (rebel forces).

The Kurds remain central to pro-Western efforts in Syria and are leading the push to re-take Raqqa. There could be increasing trouble between Syrian Kurds (who are aligned to the terrorist-designated Turkish PKK) and Turkey. Turkey has already attacked Kurdish positions in northern Syria and the Turkish government is increasingly re-aligning its policy towards Russia.

The US has made cautious moves towards re-engagement with Russia on Syria, but mistrusts Russia’s ability to ensure that Syria lives up to any commitments towards a negotiated settlement.

The re-election in May of reformist President Rouhani in Iran is unlikely to moderate Iranian policy in the short to medium term, and the dispute between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Qatar is likely to undermine further Sunni support for ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria.

Meanwhile, many analysts are worried that the territorial defeat of ISIS may make the group more dangerous internationally than it is at present. Fighters and leaders could be dispersed, other ‘provinces’ of ISIS, for example in Egypt, could be strengthened and the group could turn to inspiring and organising more attacks outside Iraq and Syria.

Although the Astana ceasefire is nominally in place, suffering continues largely unabated for Syrians. And the capacity of neighbouring countries to absorb refugees is being severely tested. Displaced Syrians are finding it increasingly difficult to cross into safety in neighbouring countries.

The violation of international humanitarian law in Iraq and Syria has been widespread. The UN Commission of Inquiry was particularly critical of the Syrian Government for its attacks on civilians. It also found that other actors, particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, were guilty of IHL violations.

Chemical weapons were also being used in Syria by the government, in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, although that appears to have stopped since the cruise missile attacks.

Although there is little prospect of prosecutions in international courts at present, evidence is being gathered. Some commentators said that the allegations of a crematorium at a Syrian prison indicate that the Syrian government is trying to hide evidence.

The casualty toll continues to rise: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that 96,000 civilians have died, of a total of 470,000, between the beginning of the conflict and March 2017. Other groups give different figures.

Many sources say that the Syrian government and its supporters have caused by far the most casualties. Aerial bombardment is reported to have caused fewer casualties, although the number caused by the US-led coalition is increasing.

Over half of the Syrians have been forced out of their homes. But refugees are finding it increasingly difficult to find refuge in neighbouring countries as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon seal their borders.

$3.4 billion are needed for the Syria response plan 2017. The UK was the third largest bilateral donor for the Syria crisis in 2016. At present the UK Government is committed to spending 2.3 billion by 2020.

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