What’s new? Having retaken the last rebel-held areas in Syria’s western interior, the Syrian regime is turning southward. Regime forces are massing in preparation for a reconquest of the “de-escalation” zone in Syria’s south west, which is protected by a trilateral agreement between Russia, the United States and Jordan.
Why does it matter? The south west sits at the intersection of Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan. A regime offensive to reconquer it could take a terrible civilian toll, destabilise Jordan, and trigger a wider conflict between Israel and Iran, especially if the regime seeks the help of Iran-backed militias.
What should be done? All sides should seize the opportunity to negotiate a deal for the conditional return of the Syrian state to the south west and avert a military conclusion that, for all sides and the local population, would be a worse outcome.