A view shows damaged buildings in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Syria's war has entered a new phase as President Bashar Assad extends his grip in areas being captured from Daesh (ISIS), using firepower freed by Russian-backed truces in western Syria.The war for western Syria, long Assad's priority, has shifted down several gears thanks to the cease-fires, including one organized by Moscow and Washington in the southwest.With hundreds of thousands of people killed and militias controlling swaths of the country, Assad's opponents say Syria can never be stable again with him in power.Government forces have skirted the area where Kurdish-led militias supported by Washington are fighting Daesh in Raqqa. The U.S.-led coalition has stressed it is not seeking war with Assad.There has been no sign that Western states are ready to rehabilitate Assad, accused by Washington of repeatedly using chemical weapons during the war, most recently in April.Significant areas of western Syria remain in rebel hands, notably Idlib province in the northwest, a corner of the southwest, an area north of Homs and the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus.
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