Undercover in Damascus
By early 2017, as the Islamic State headed for eclipse in Iraq, the Syrian war appeared also to be moving toward a strategic stalemate. The Russian entry into the war in September 2015 meant that the prospect for a complete defeat of the Assad regime no longer existed. But the Russians also did not appear interested in helping the regime reconquer the entirety of the country. The result was that while the bloodletting continued, the fragmentation of Syria that the war had ushered in looked set to remain, despite the wishes of the Assad regime and its supporters, and of the Iranians.