Meanwhile in Syria

Who’s winning in Iowa? That’s the question of the moment. But it’s also pertinent to ask who’s winning in Syria.

The answer is the very bad guys. Which very bad guys? It depends on the part of Syria in question.

In the east, ISIS seems to be winning, happy talk from the administration notwithstanding. The Washington Post reports that ISIS is intensifying its siege against President Bashar al-Assad’s last stronghold in eastern Syria. That stronghold is the city of Deir al-Zour, where an estimated 200,000 people are said to be running out of food and medicine.

Deir al-Zour is the capital of an oil-producing province, most of which is already controlled by ISIS, according to the Post. In the city itself, ISIS has taken control of the arms depot, and the Assad government is not expected to resist ISIS’s push for much longer, again according to the Post.

One might have thought that Russia would help the government defend this oil-producing region of Syria against ISIS. But Russia is concentrating its efforts on other groups opposing the Assad regime, not ISIS.

This brings us to Western Syria. There, the Washington Post tells us, Russian air strikes have helped the Assad regime inflict a significant defeat on Western-backed rebels:

After a month-long offensive backed by Russian warplanes, government forces and allied ­militias reclaimed control of the town of Sheikh Miskeen, strategically located at a crossroads commanding a southern supply route between the Jordanian border and the Syrian capital, Damascus.

It was the latest in a string of defeats inflicted on rebel fighters in recent weeks, as Assad loyalists finally start to capitalize on nearly four months of intense Russian airstrikes that have mostly targeted the anti-Assad rebellion.

An ISIS caliphate in the east; a brutal Russia-Iran proxy regime in the west; 250,000 Syrians dead (so far); an unparalleled refugee crisis in Europe. These are the fruits of President Obama’s Syria policy.