This is a lucid summary of the very confusing military situaton in Syria. From Peter Korzun at strategic-culture.org:
Syrian rebels from Eastern Lions and Ahmad al-Abdo Army formations – the elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – state that they are «intensely» attacking Iranian-backed pro-government militias in the eastern Syrian desert in an operation dubbed «The Land is Ours». The forces’ strength is around four thousand. The main enemies are the Islamic State (IS), Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Syrian government-allied forces. The operation is conducted near Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan. This time, the mission is to squeeze the SAA and its allies out from the desert areas.
Supplied from Jordan, the opposition plans to ultimately advance further into Syria’s territory. Combat operations areas encompass the de-escalation zones proposed by Russia, Turkey and Iran where ceasefire was expected to be established on June 6. In peace talks in early May, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to create four de-confliction zones in Syria. This deal was supposed to apply to the US as well, but the Trump administration has refused to recognize the legitimacy of these de-escalation zones—even while using them to justify attacks on Syrian government-allied forces.
Evidently, one of the goals pursued by the escalation of hostilities is to demonstrate that the armed opposition is a force to reckon with at a time the crisis management talks are held in Astana and Geneva. Obviously, this is an attempt to subvert the ongoing international peace efforts.
At first glance, the mission appears to be a dubious venture as the opposition forces advance into desert with no urban areas. However, the goal is not to seize populated areas but rather to undermine the Russia-backed initiative aimed at establishing de-escalation zones. The opposition has decided that the time is right for changing the tide of war into its favor. The forces can advance more rapidly in desert as the SAA presence there is not as strong as in other areas.
To continue reading: Syria’s Cauldron: One Step Away from Major Showdown