With ISIS all but defeated and other rebel forces mostly boiled down to just the Idlib Province and a few smaller enclaves, most people have been saying for months at this point that the Assad government has effectively “won” the Syrian War and will survive the conflict, albeit with some reforms needed at the end.
US officials, however, are insisting that Assad is wholly “not capable of winning” this war, citing massive damage to the national infrastructure, huge casualties the military has suffered, and his growing dependence on his allies.
This prediction of “not winning” is likely to be the centerpiece of future US justifications for keeping large numbers of ground troops in Syria over the express objections of the Syrian government.
But it may be a risky proposition, since it positions US forces as part of the forces aligned against the end of the Syrian war, and officials concede the US almost certainly isn’t going to commit enough troops to seriously try to take over Syria. As with so many other countries, US forces deployed there are being made a target by being positioned as an anti-stability force.