militarytimes: "Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders have begun imposing restrictions on the size and scope of the U.S. military force in their country. Factions within Baghdad’s Shiite-led government are influenced by neighboring Iran and thus oppose expanding the American military mission there. "Iraq is proving to be a lot trickier than we thought," said Michael Knights, a military expert with the the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "You’ve always got the risk that you can unbalance the government if you do too much. ... We've learned that it can be a lot simpler operating in an environment where you have no sovereign government [like Syria] than to operate in a place where you’ve got one, like in Iraq."
The new battle plan has many potential pitfalls, of course. And there are no clear plans for ousting ISIS militants from their strongholds in Syria west of the Euphrates River, where several rebel factions are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been buoyed by Russian military forces that have established an air base along the Mediterranean coast. For the U.S. and its allies, Russia's presence and activity in the region only further complicates an already convoluted pocket of Syria’s five-year-old civil war.
This campaign will take years to execute, officials say. But it is underway, both operationally and politically. Carter's recent trip to the region, which included stops here in Irbil, Baghdad and Turkey, set things in motion."
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