Syria – R+6 has clearly opted for a strategy that prioritizes the liberation of eastern Homs Governorate along the line Palmyra-Sukhna-Deir az-Zor and then an expansion of government control north to Raqqa. There is a fair amount of gas and oil out in the desert and the prospective prize in terms of dead jihadis is high but the over riding consideration is political and diplomatic with a view t coming parliamentary elections and the talks in Geneva. the Assad Administration has no intention of surrendering power to a collection of rebels favored by the US and is inclined to believe that re-conquest of the vast eastern deserts will increase its bargaining power in the effort to reach an accommodation with the non-jihadi opposition. At present the SAA is seeking to broaden the "shoulders" of the salient that they hold leading to Palmyra from the west. SAA forces are pushing north and south to push IS back away from the main LOC to Palmyra. This is clearly in preparation for the next phase of the campaign goals in the east. While this is occurring the R+6 alliance appear to have adopted an economy of force posture for the rest of the country, restricting its activities to: minor offensive action, defending against rebel attacks, and counterattacking to re-gain ground lost to local jihadi efforts to reverse the present situation in which they have lost the initiative to the government. The one exception to that government policy seems to be in the East Ghouta farmland outside Damascus. The pocket of land held there by the rebels is evidently too much of a nuisance to be further endured and government forces have encircled a sizable piece of ground with a view to eliminating it. The Nusra , IS and non jihadi FSA (unicorns) are inadvertently cooperating with the R+6 by fighting with each other all over western Syria. This is quite helpful for the government as its forces and those of its allies are small for the tasks at hand.
Iraq – Iraqi forces have entered Hit on the Euphrates road to Syria. This IMO constitutes a serious and distracting threat to IS in eastern Syria and is probably only possible because of the success to date of R+6 in Syria.
As the Borg Turns – Efforts in the US and Europe continue in a campaign to denigrate R+6 success. "1984" comes to mind. pl