The battleground in eastern Syria has only grown more complex as the U.S.-led, mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces and the Russia-backed Syrian military fought two separate campaigns to destroy ISIS. As the Syrian military, backed by various pro-government militias—many of which were supported by Iran—and Russian warplanes, retook Deir Ezzor city and the border town of Al-Bukamal, they declared victory over ISIS and reclaimed the region for Assad.
On the other side of the Euphrates River, however, the Syrian Democratic Forces maintained control of lucrative oil fields. The Kurdish leadership had reportedly entered into preliminary talks with the Syrian government to negotiate the return of these sites in exchange for greater autonomy across majority-Kurdish northern Syria, but two major developments have upset the dynamics of eastern Syria.
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