The summer 2014 offensive in neighboring Iraq by the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL/ISIS) has reshaped longstanding debates over U.S. policy toward the three-year old conflict in Syria. The Islamic State controls large areas of northeastern Syria, where it continues to clash with forces opposed to and aligned with the government of Bashar al Asad. Meanwhile, fighting continues in other parts of Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, many of whom also are engaged in battles with IS forces. Since March 2011, the conflict has driven more than 3 million Syrians into neighboring countries as refugees (out of a total population of more than 22 million). Millions more Syrians are internally displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance, of which the United States remains the largest bilateral provider, with more than $2.4 billion in funding identified to date. The United States also has allocated a total of $287 million to date for nonlethal assistance to select opposition groups. Prior to the Islamic State's mid-2014 advances in Iraq, the Administration had requested $2.75 billion in funding for the Syria crisis for FY2015. Neither pro-Asad forces nor their opponents appear capable of achieving outright victory in the short term. However, the prospect of international intervention to degrade the capabilities of the Islamic State appears to be driving speculation among many parties to the conflict that dramatic changes in the dynamics of what has remained a grinding war of attrition could soon be possible. Some opposition forces seek to cast themselves as potential allies to outsiders who are opposed to both the Islamic State and the Syrian government, while others reject the idea of foreign intervention outright or demand that foreigners focus solely on toppling President Asad. Syrian officials have stated their conditional willingness to serve as partners with the international community in counterterrorism operations in Syria, a position that reflects their desire to create an image and role for the Asad government as a bulwark against Sunni Islamist extremism. For the United States and others examining options for weakening the Islamic State, these conditions raise questions about how best to pursue new counterterrorism and regional security goals without strengthening the Syrian government relative to the opposition groups and civilians it has brutalized during the conflict. Similar questions arise in relation to options for countering the Islamic State without bolstering other anti-U.S. Islamist groups. At present, anti-Asad armed forces and their activist counterparts remain divided over tactics, strategy, and their long-term political goals for Syria, with some powerful Islamist forces seeking outcomes that are contrary in significant ways to stated U.S. preferences for Syria's political future. The United Nations Security Council also seeks continued Syrian government cooperation with efforts to verifiably end Syria's chemical weapons program. As of September 2014, all declared chemical weapons had been removed from Syria, and all declared materials of priority concern had been destroyed. Related facilities are set for destruction by March 2015.