The War in Syria, as well as its connected spillovers in Iraq and Lebanon, is already by far the most violent conflict of this decade. Close to 300,000 people lie dead, 2 countries lie ruined, and extremist Islamic groups are now more powerful than ever before. Now in its 4th year, the conflict is a four way power struggle between Assad regime loyalist forces, a range of Islamist rebel groups, the Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS or Daesh) as well as the Kurdish YPG. For much of the last 12 months the relative territorial control of each of these groups remained roughly the same, with many watchers of the conflict commenting that a stalemate had been reached.
The events of the last 3 months however have proven that such analysis was flawed, and the situation is now descending into an even greater level of chaos.
This breaking down of the equilibrium of force achieved over the course of 2014 is apparent across three major battle zones, where major players are in a state of flux.