Here are the main advances in Syria by key armed groups over the past three months.
ISLAMIC STATE GROUP
– Centre: Islamic State group jihadists drive Syrian government forces out of the ancient city of Palmyra on May 21, seizing control of the UNESCO World Heritage site and a notorious prison complex, which it later razes.
Control of Palmyra opens up a key access route to the extremists, stretching west into Iraq’s Anbar province, much of which it controls.
– South: On May 21, IS takes Al-Tanaf, the final border crossing with Iraq still under government control.
– Northeast: After several forays, IS launches a full-scale assault on the provincial capital of Hasakeh, forcing regime fighters in two neighbourhoods to flee on June 25 after intense clashes.
– North: On the same day, IS unleashes a fresh assault on the frontier Kurdish town of Kobane, where it was repelled from with the help of US-led air strikes in January.
The jihadists detonate multiple car bombs, causing dozens of casualties, including civilians and Kurdish fighters, followed by fierce street battles.
REBELS AND AL-QAEDA
– South: On March 25, rebels chase pro-regime militias from Shiite Muslim sectors of Bosra al-Sham in Daraa province, where the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.
Rebels now control all of the ancient southern city.
On April 1, opposition fighters seize Daraa’s Nasib crossing, the last regime-held border point on Syria’s frontier with Jordan.
– Northwest: Under the banner The Army of Conquest, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, aided by other rebel groups, take Idlib city on March 28 — only the second provincial capital to fall from regime hands after IS’s northern Raqa stronghold.
A month later, on April 25, The Army of Conquest captures the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughur, one of the final regime bastions in Idlib province. The town is close to both Turkey and the coastal Latakia province, a fiefdom of the Assad clan for more than 50 years.
– North: On June 16, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) force IS from the key border town of Tal Abyad, which had served as a vital crossing point with Turkey for the jihadists.
The seizure of Tal Abyad with assistance from US-led bombing raids represents a significant blow for the jihadists and the Kurds progress south to take the nearby Brigade 93 base, just 55 kilometres (35 miles) from IS’s “capital”, Raqa.
The Syrian army has seen several setbacks in recent months, losing ground to rebels and IS in the northwest and centre of the country.