Anti-ISIS forces arranged a large-scale escape of ISIS forces and their families, 4,000 in number, from Raqqa on October 12, 2017. ISIS fighters numbered about 250. How this occurred is examined in detail in a BBC news report dated 13 November, 2017. The convoy included at least 163 vehicles spread over 6-7 kilometers.
ISIS forces re-located east of the Euphrates in several areas. A map shows Abu Kamal to be one such location. Syrian government forces have been fighting ISIS there in the last few days and have also attacked Atareb.
The U.S. has bases and military forces in Kurdish-administered areas in northeastern Syria.
However, Assad’s stated policy is that U.S. forces are invaders and should leave Syria. He wants Syria intact and undivided. Syrian forces aim to retake northern and eastern Syria. Trump and his generals are going to have to decide how to address Assad’s demands that they leave, and Assad is going to have to decide how to handle the American presence in the Kurdish area. This all involves political and military jockeying that has already begun. This includes Erdogan piping up.
Trump can close up shop in Syria, but not without being heavily-criticized by the neocon contingent. He can try to re-arrange Syria jointly with Putin, and this too will result in hysterical criticism from neocons. Netanyahu will want a buffer in southern Syria, and he has already reiterated that he’ll bomb Syria if he pleases.
Trump has a good many political tools available to weather these storms, if they arise. He can get his generals to speak up in his support. He can change the subject. He can raise the level of his anti-Iran rhetoric. He can appease the opposition with talk of new elections in Syria. He can tout the victory over ISIS, even if the Russians were instrumental in bringing it about. He can always rely on Nikki Haley making inflammatory and/or liberal interventionist statements at the U.N.9:34 am on November 14, 2017 Email Michael S. Rozeff