The situation in northern Syria and Iraq has developed pretty much as expected. So far, the Turks have been unable to re-take full control of the M4 highway. As a result of that failure, the joint Russian-Turkish patrols have not been able to move along the full length of the highway as spelled out in the agreement between Russia and Turkey. Clearly, Turkey lacks either the will, or the capability, or both, to remove the Takfiri forces from the M4 highway. So far, the Russians and Syrians have very kindly agreed to wait a little longer, but the recent visit of Russian Defense Minister Shoigu to Damascus clearly shows that big decisions are being worked on:
As for Iraq, the various Shia militias are doing exactly what everybody had predicted, they are executing limited but very disruptive strikes against US forces in Iraq. Here is a good infographic by the Institute for the Study of War which sums it up very nicely:
What we have here is a small trickle of attacks which do not yield any major victory to the Iraqi forces, but which over time will tremendously demoralize US forces. Finally, such “death by a thousand cuts” strategy also will severely limit the operational capabilities of the US forces in Iraq: when you are mostly busy protecting yourself, you have less time to murder locals.
Still, sooner or later the Shias will have to step up their attacks because forcing the occupation forces to hunker down and actually kicking them out of your country are two very different propositions. These small strikes are very useful, not only because they demoralize the enemy, but because by forcing him to stay inside fortified “secure” areas only makes them better targets for a bigger missile strike.
This is a very sound strategy against which the US forces have no good option, other than throwing in the towel and leaving, which they will have to do anyway (except that they call it “declare victory and leave”, but its the exact same thing).
Source: Vineyard of the Saker