ISIS and the new ‘Army of Conquest’ in Syria are headed for a showdown

The Daily Beast reports: Two successive months and two stunning battlefield reversals for the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — one dealt him in the east by the so-called Islamic State, the other in the north by a new coalition of rebel forces that includes an affiliate of al Qaeda in a leading role. Now, as the two armies look to expand their territorial gains at the Assad regime’s expense, they’re also converging on each other.

The clash between the terror state widely known as ISIS and the newly emerged Jaish al Fata, or Army of Conquest, is likely to come sooner than later. Most likely it will happen in the vicinity of Homs, referred to by many rebels as “the capital of the revolution.” Ironically (or maybe not), Homs stands on the ancient caravan route between the ISIS-overrun Palmyra and the Mediterranean.

U.S. officials have been arguing in recent weeks that the ISIS/Syria/Iraq war is destined to last a long time, saying there are no signs the parties are exhausted yet or that foreign backers are ready to call a halt to the carnage, as they eventually did with the long-running Lebanese civil war. “We remain in a period of dangerous military stalemate, and it is likely to continue for some time,” argues Randa Slim of the Middle East Institute, a think tank in Washington.

That may be so, but as Slim acknowledges, “the trend in Syria today is definitely not in favor of the regime.” That’s a point her colleague at the institute, former Ambassador Robert Ford, emphasized even before the fall of Palmyra, arguing, “Despite constant Western media assessments that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s situation is secure, the reality is that the Syrian war is one of attrition. And minority regimes usually do not fare well in prolonged wars of attrition.” [Continue reading…]

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