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The geopolitics behind race for eastern Syria

Fast-paced developments between the various players of the Syrian war raise questions about the geopolitical importance of the northeastern region.
Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad ride on pick-up trucks mounted with weapons in the Badia, in the southeast Syrian desert, in this handout picture provided by SANA on June 13, 2017, Syria. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. - RTS16TTU
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With the war on the Islamic State (IS) in full swing, the race for eastern Syria is on, with regional and international players jockeying for position in the desert areas stretching from north to south, in the direction of the Iraqi borders. Forces backed regionally and internationally are fighting for the precious span of desert. What are the geopolitical calculations of the various factions in that region?

The Syrian government has been progressing in recent weeks in three regions in central and eastern Syria, east of Aleppo toward the Raqqa axis, in the Deir ez-Zor region and al-Tanf, close to where the borders of Jordan, Iraq and Syria meet. At the same time, US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are gaining territory in IS’ Raqqa stronghold, while US coalition forces have clashed with pro-regime militias in the area of al-Tanf. Iran has also been pushing on the other side of the border, in the sector of Baaj in western Iraq.

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