The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) declared areas east of the Euphrates River in Deir Al-Zor province cleared of Islamic State (IS) militants on Sunday, December 3. The YPG - and the larger US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance - are expected to make further advances into remaining IS-held territory in eastern Syria in the coming weeks.
IS has been rapidly losing its remaining territory in Syria as well as in Iraq over the past weeks and months. In mid-October, Raqqa, the former IS stronghold, was liberated from the group's control, and in early November the major oil production hub of Deir Al-Zor was reclaimed from IS militants as well. In neighboring Iraq, government forces have also achieved recent victories against IS, including the liberation of Mosul in July, Tal Afar in August, and Hawija in October. As IS's capabilities to successfully wage insurgent warfare in Iraq and Syria wane, it is likely that the group will continue to employ asymmetric terror tactics with greater frequency, using small cells that can operate within the group's progressively fragmenting leadership structure.
Syria is enmeshed in a complex civil war that started between the Assad government and opposition forces in March 2011. Today, the conflict in Syria involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including IS) with competing goals.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.