After seven years of war in Syria, the endgame is here. All major frontlines have been frozen by foreign intervention, and military action now hinges on externally brokered political deals. The result could be a de facto division of the country.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed forces spent the past two years taking out isolated rebel strongholds, like Eastern Aleppo and Ghouta. Recently, they recaptured the area along the border with Jordan and territory near the Golan Heights—but at that point, they ran out of low-hanging fruit.
The sight of Russian diplomats shuttling between Israelis, Syrians, Iranians and Americans to ease Assad’s return to the 1967 cease-fire line in the Golan was a sign of things to come. Israel finally relented, accepting a Russian-monitored restoration of the pre-2011 status quo, but it’s not clear things will be as easy in the rest of Syria, where the three remaining areas outside Assad’s control are shielded by soldiers from NATO member states and wrapped up in complex diplomacy.