Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani writes for Room for Debate on the New York Times about the recent air campaign in Syria:
The broader impact of the air campaign depends on who the airstrikes target, where and why, and whether the United States is serious about expanding support for the rebel groups fighting both ISIS and the regime of Bashar al-Assad regime. So far, most of the attacks have targeted ISIS areas far from the regime but adjacent to rebel territory. On balance, that helps the rebels more than it does the regime. At the very least, it seriously complicates any potential ISIS offensives against key rebel areas (in Idlib and Aleppo).
Interestingly though, ISIS has not been the only target. Khorasan – a transnational Al Qaeda cell – has also been hit, and that has very different implications. Khorasan is imbedded with the Nusra Front and, while the latter’s relationship with other rebel groups has not always been smooth, it is a capable and important member of the antiregime insurgency. If this air campaign goes after Nusra and its affiliates, these groups could no longer coexist with or tolerate U.S.-aligned rebel groups. That would open yet another front in an already complicated civil war, and score a point for the regime.