More than one week after President Trump decided to pull the United States out of northern Syria, the situation on the ground has begun reflecting a new phase in the Syrian conflict.
As the United States heads out, other forces are heading in.
Who has taken advantage of Trump’s Syria pullout?
Turkish troops from the north have advanced on Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters since Oct. 9, with the aim of carving out a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria. Facing the militarily superior Turkish forces, the Kurdish fighters struck a deal with the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad — a government backed by Russia and Iran — to allow Syrian government forces back into the country’s northeast.
The troop movements are set to radically alter Syria’s geopolitical maps, even though it was still unclear how far either of the two powers would end up advancing into Kurdish territories as of Wednesday. First reports indicated gains for Assad near Manbij and Turkish advances near Ras al-Ayn.