Outside the Box: The U.S. and Iran are headed for a collision in Syria

Iran and its proxies have already begun to shape post-ISIS Syria, and eastern Syria is the most important theater. Yet recent events show that Iranian-backed forces advancing there will inevitability collide with two hostile forces, and compete with one of them.

The first lies south in the al-Tanf border area, where U.S. special forces and their Arab partners continue to take ground from the Islamic State (known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh). The second force lies to the north, where the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or the SDF, could follow their current Raqqa offensive with an attack on ISIS in Deir Ezzor.

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