In short, no. IS is clearly losing cohesion and any IS or allied groups not closely tied to the central leadership are beginning to despair of the fight. I think YPG/SDF units may be able to bypass some of these deflated jihadis without much of a fight. Local jihadis may also be open to local truces with the local SDF Arab tribes. I would think the US and its allied forces would be happy to avoid these fights rather than aggressively seek combat. CJTF-OIR may also be watching the success of the Russian reconciliation program in turning former enemy fighters into allies and seek to do the same east of the Euphrates.
Yesterday Al Masdar News published an enlightening story where an “ISIS fighter admits that ISIS is forbidden to attack Kurdish forces in Deir Ezzor.”
"BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:50 P.M.) – A video has just been released on social media showing the interview of an ISIS fighter from Deir Ezzor who admits that the terrorist group’s forces in the region are forbidden by their commanders from attacking US-backed, Kurdish-led militias.
The interviewee, Mohammed Moussa al-Shawwakh, says that his group, tasked with defending the area around the Conoco Gas Fields, was ordered to allow Kurdish forces to enter the strategic site. The order, he says, came from a top regional emir (leader) called Abu Zaid.
The ISIS fighter’s confession goes on to mention that Kurdish-led forces were also allowed to enter other gas and oil fields in the region in order to make propaganda videos.
Mohammed finishes the interview by saying that he knows for a fact that the US is attempting to establish an alliance between Kurdish forces and ISIS in Deir Ezzor province in order to undermine government-led military efforts to liberate the region."
Well, this would certainly explain the ease of the YPG/SDF advance to Deir Ezzor and the lack of combat. Some will see this as proof of US-IS collusion. I see it as evidence supporting my earlier thoughts of the CJTF-OIR seeing the wisdom of neutralizing the enemy through negotiations rather than eliminating them through combat. It is evidence of IS weakness rather than US perfidy.
Remember all that talk about the Russians and Assad being allied with IS because they were busy slamming all those other jihadis, including our unicorn army, rather than exclusively targeting IS? Many also were, and still are, in high dungeon about the whole Russian sponsored de-escalation zone effort. We were most recently mightily upset that the R+6 and Lebanon would allow a few busloads of IS jihadis and their families to leave their positions along the Syrian-Lebanese border enroute to Deir Ezzor. In my opinion, all these de-escalation efforts have put the R+6 in a far better position of neutralizing the jihadi threat in Idlib now than it was in immediately after the liberation of Aleppo. Perhaps the CJTF-OIR has realized what the R+6 discovered long ago. As Churchill said, “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.” Even as a tactic of war, it makes sense in this region.
What is more troubling is that we don’t know what the USG and CJTF-OIR plans to do once IS is neutralized on both sides of the Euphrates. CENTCOM is a damnably arrogant command which has long sought to maintain a sizable and influential footprint in the region. Why?