TIME

Ethnic Kurds—who on Tuesday scored their second and third significant victories over ISIS in the space of eight days—are by far the most effective force fighting ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. But they appear to intent on keeping all the ground they’ve taken from the militant group for their own national project, endangering the larger cause of keeping these two battered nation-states in one piece, and raising the prospect of another war patiently waiting at the conclusion of the current one.

The recent run of victories in Syria illustrates the Kurds’ battlefield capabilities. Six months after winning in Kobani, the Turkish border town where as many as 1,000 ISIS fighters died, Syrian Kurd fighters on June 15 took another border town, Tel Abyad, creating a corridor on Syria’s northern border and—far more important—cutting off the main supply line to Raqqah, ISIS’s capital 60 miles due south. On…

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