BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:45 P.M.) – The U.S. Special Envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey,” stated during an Atlantic Council event this week that America offered to cooperate with Russia to fight the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in the eastern countryside of the Homs Governorate.
“One consequence of the focus on Idlib by what’s left of Assad’s inept army, is that few forces are left to deal with ISIS in the southwest in the Badiyah Desert,” Jeffrey said during a video conference hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank’s Turkey branch.
“We have seen ISIS gaining ground there, attacking even towns, and at least briefly holding territory. That has to stop. We’ve offered to cooperate with the Russians on this, but as long as the focus is on Idlib that is yet another consequence,” he continued.
Jeffrey warned that while the government offensive in Idlib has been stopped “for the moment,” the possibility that it could quickly resume “still remains a danger.”
He added: “Idlib is the crucible of the entire conflict in Syria at this point,” he said. “This is the question before us: will the Syrian government continue this offensive, push for a military victory, or are we at a point that this cease-fire holds and we can move to a political settlement of the conflict?”
Jeffrey’s comments about ISIS “gaining ground” in eastern Homs has mostly been exaggerated, as the terrorist carries out hit-and-run attacks and hasn’t captured any areas.
During the Islamic State’s last major attack in the Badiya Al-Sham region of Homs, they launched several attacks and managed to force the government to suspend operations at the Sha’er and Hayyan gas fields due to security risks.
However, ISIS did not capture these areas, despite the claims that were spread by pro-opposition media.
Similar to the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi Army, the Syrian military is conducting daily sweeping operations in the vast desert region near the Iraqi border.
ISIS has managed to establish several sleeper cells across the Deir Ezzor, Al-Hasakah, Al-Anbar (Iraq), Nineveh (Iraq), Homs, and Al-Raqqa governorates, which has made it very difficult to put an end to the terrorist group’s presence in Syria and Iraq.