As 2018 began, it looked like the war in Syria might be drawing toward an ending that few in the international community wanted. Yes, ISIS was on the way to defeat as a conventional fighting force–but the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, controlled more than half of the country.
Barely seven weeks later, an end to the conflict is nowhere in sight. Instead, the war in Syria is growing like a tumor–worsening in some areas and infecting surrounding states. What began as a civil uprising seven years ago now looks more like an international conflict where patron states are replacing their proxies.
Since Feb. 3, the aircraft of four different countries have been downed over Syria. A Russian jet was hit by Syrian opposition fighters. Turkey says Kurdish fighters shot down one of its helicopters. An Israeli F-16 was downed by the Syrian regime after the jet carried out raids in Syria. And Israel says it shot down an Iranian drone entering Israeli space from Syria. On top of this, U.S. forces clashed with Russian mercenary forces who had attacked Kurdish forces backed by the U.S.