Since 2014, Iran has been taking advantage of the “fight against ISIS” to move Iranian and Iranian-backed forces into Iraq and Syria.
The campaign, spearheaded by Qods force commander Qassem Soleimani, began with Diyala Province in eastern Iraq and has spread through central Iraq to Tikrit, Fallujah, and Ramadi. The campaign also involved a thrust into northern Iraq through As Sulaymaniyah to Mosul. (See links below.)
In Syria, the Russian- and Iran-backed campaign to retake Syrian territory from anti-regime forces began in earnest about 11 months ago, with a concentrated initiative launched in late September and early October of 2016. Little of the opposition in western Syria, where the campaign started, involved ISIS.
But as the campaign has pushed to the south and east, it has entailed more and more fighting against ISIS. This