Martin Chulov asks whether, 'Amid the ruins of Syria, is Bashar al-Assad now finally facing the end?' (Guardian 24th May 2015). The US is rapidly losing any influence it had in the Middle East to control events and the Syrian government is under increased pressure from on the one hand the rebels backed by neighbouring countries and on the other ISIL. The evacuation of cultural property to 'safe' areas within Syria becomes pointless once those regions too are the scene of military activity and then overrun, as is looking increasingly likely. The only question is which rebel group will get their hands on the evacuated cultural property and will any of it find its way back to the places it had been evacuated from?
Meanwhile 'Russia ready to help Iraq defeat Islamic State: Lavrov':
Russia is ready to supply weapons to Iraq, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, as the country struggles to halt advances by Islamic State militants. [...] Moscow would make every effort to help the Baghdad government push back the militants. Islamic State insurgents overran the Iraqi city of Ramadi last weekend in the most significant setback for the Baghdad government in a year, exposing the weakness of Iraq's army and the limitations of U.S. air strikes.