The U.S. ability to shape high-level outcomes in Syria is limited; Russia and Iran have outmaneuvered the United States. Eastern Syria still offers leverage to salvage a marginally but meaningfully better outcome for U.S. interests and the Syrian population. The United States must determine its sources of leverage, articulate its goals, connect those goals to a stabilization framework, and operationalize burden sharing under an eastern Syria framework. Failing this, the Assad regime will likely take over the east, which has proven to be the ultimate driver of instability and extremism in the country, with effects that will inevitably draw the United States back into the region.

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This article was originally published as a CSIS Brief.