Russia and Iran have troops in Syria and will see opportunities amid chaos of US impulsiveness

Donald Trump’s decision to give the green light – now seemingly turning amber – for Turkey to enter northern Syria has produced a torrent of criticism from European capitals to Washington Republicans, all pointing out that Ankara’s move will revive Islamic State, cause untold civilian deaths and land the US with an indelible reputation across the Middle East as an unreliable ally.

But the west has been losing traction in Syria over the past two years, and it may be the reaction of Russia and Iran, who have forces on the ground in Syria, that will most concern the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Their reaction may also reveal more about the long-term future of Syria’s eight-year civil war.

Who is in control in north-eastern Syria?

Related: Turkish offensive triggers exodus of aid workers from Syria

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