As regime forces continue to beat back ISIS in Syria, the country’s embattled president is using the gains to his advantage to convince the West that he’s a viable partner in the fight against terrorism.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad retook the ancient city of Palmyra last month, and have since driven ISIS fighters out of the town of al-Quryatain.

Assad’s focus on ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh), which he claims to have been fighting all along, likely comes as a result of the partial ceasefire between rebels and the regime.

But despite his claims to be fighting terrorists in Syria, Assad’s forces have, until now, mostly focused on eliminating the moderate opposition that challenges Assad’s rule.

Now, as a tenuous ceasefire continues, Assad is using regime gains against ISIS to push his message to the West of being the best partner in the war on terror. But experts say Assad has been a major driver of extremism in Syria — as he massacres civilians and refuses to step down, the moderate opposition becomes more and more radical.

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