The military offenses launched in northern and western Iraq this week mark a new phase in the campaign against Islamic State and the effort to stabilize Iraq and Syria. They are part of a long-term push that will require diplomatic efforts to achieve a political settlement to Syria’s conflict and economic aid to address the humanitarian needs of millions displaced by the conflict who are about to endure another winter in harsh conditions.
In the past week Iraqi Kurdish forces, with backing from U.S. airstrikes, regained control of a strategically important road that links Iraq to Syria and is a key supply line and transit point for ISIS. Iraqi forces have reportedlyencircled ISIS forces in Ramadi, which ISIS extremists had taken over earlier this year. Across Iraq’s western border, the U.S. has stepped up airstrikesagainst ISIS-controlled oil fields in Syria. These military actions come about two months after Russia established a military presence in western Syria and started conducting its own airstrikes against an array of forces opposed to Bashar al-Assad‘s government.The above excerpt was originally published in The Wall Street Journal.