As Assad sets his sights on Idlib province, the stage is set for one of the fiercest confrontations so far.
IS has lost control of most of the territory it once held. But it is not defeated and is morphing into an international movement, inspiring more attacks.
A United Nations resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria, agreed on 24 February, has proved meaningless.
Like the plaited, interwoven roots of an ageing tree, the rivalries and intrigues of the Syrian conflict are long and sinewy.
Its message remains as defiant as ever.
As many as a hundred women are believed to have left Britain for Isis territory since 2013.
IS tells its members they are divinely obligated to fight for its cause, but that results come from God.
From the Manchester bomber to Sharia4Holland – how Western terrorists become radicalised.
As pressure on the terror group that claimed responsiblity for the Manchester attack intensifies, the threat to Britain will only become more acute.
Above all, the Gulf states want stability. Can this beleaguered US president bring order?
Whoever leads the country after this conflict comes to an end will inherit not just the rubble and ruins, but a ravaged people, too.