The era of anarchy, mayhem and torture in Syria may be be over. The Islamic State has finally been defeated, and their grip on large swathes of Syria is over. The war dragged on for five years and claimed more than 400,000 lives and displaced an upward of 10 million people. The past few years have witnessed the Islamic State rapidly losing ground to the forces that are loyal to the Syrian government. Recently, the Islamic State was expelled from its last outpost Baghouz and the country is 100 percent free from the militant group’s control. But it will take years for Syria to return to normalcy as many lives have been divided and devastated. Currently the country is not under the control of any single authority, but multiple entities.
Currently the Syrian government has control over a substantial portion of the country. The Syrian Arab Republic, led by President Bashar al-Assad, has around 62% of the territory under its authority. Assad fought a successful battle against the Islamic State and was assisted in his efforts by Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, which entered the war against the IS in 2015. Some of the prominent cities that come under Assad’s control are the capital Damascus, Palmyra, Aleppo, Homs, and others.
The Kurd-led Syrian Democratic Forces are the next dominant group and control roughly 28% of the territory. The Kurds have established their autonomy in the northeastern part of the country, which is also known as Rojava. Cities coming under its control as Raqqa, which was once the capital of the Islamic State, Qamishli, and Hasakah. The Kurds are backed by the United States, United Kingdom, France, and their allies.
Some parts of Syria are also under the control of Turkey and the Free Syrian Army, a conglomeration of armed brigades opposed to President Assad.
The Future Implications
Oil has been crucial for the survival of the Assad government or other entities fighting in Syria. Some of the most lucrative oilfields, previously under the IS, are currently under the administration of the US-backed forces. Two of these include the Conoco natural gas facility and the Al Omar oil field, the most lucrative oil fields. But, the defeat of the IS would see US forces withdrawing from Syria leaving the field open for the Assad government and Russia to try to wrest control of these oil fields. While Assad is looking to fund reconstruction activities, restoring the beleaguered electricity infrastructure and providing government revenues; Russia is aiming to dominate the oil and gas sector of Syria. Though what the outcome might be is yet hard to predict, the future might see a clash between the pro-government forces and the US-backed forces or the Kurds surrendering their control over the oil fields.
Though the IS has been completely eradicated and hundreds of militant fighters have surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces that are being led by the Kurds, the militant group is not yet finished. There are speculations that it may thrive as an insurgency as there have been attacks by the group in Iraq and Syria. It would take some more time to completely eradicate the region from the IS ideologies.