A military vehicle in Manbij countryside, Syria, May 12, 2018
Aboud Hamam / Reuters

In recent weeks, Washington’s Middle East watchers have been abuzz with talk of U.S. President Joe Biden’s ongoing Syria policy review. During its first months in office, the Biden administration’s approach to Damascus has been notably cautious; unlike his predecessors, Biden has yet to appoint a high-level Syria envoy or to sanction a single person or entity connected to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime. But even though Biden would clearly prefer to pursue other foreign policy goals, Syria will increasingly demand his attention.

The decadelong Syrian conflict began as a popular uprising against Assad’

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