It's not independence, but Syria's Kurds entrench self-rule

Iraq's Kurds have sparked confrontation with their drive for independence. But Kurds in Syria are making major advances toward their more modest goal, entrenching their self-rule.

Their forces hold nearly a quarter of Syria's territory and they have a powerful alliance with the United States. They also just held local elections with the aim of eventually forming a regional parliament.

They have established themselves as a player that Syria's government will have to reckon with in a post-war future.

Perhaps more importantly, they have land. Backed by the U.S. in the fight against IS, Kurdish forces control nearly 25 percent of Syria. They hold most of the northern border with Turkey and have expanded into non-Kurdish, Arab-dominated areas