Auskar Surbakti, Host: There are reports that Islamic State militants are now advancing east towards the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. In Syria, IS fighters are believed to have made another important advance, seizing the last government-controlled border-crossing with Iraq. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces withdrew from the al-Tanf crossing in Homs, as IS fighters advanced. The loss of al-Tanf to the Islamic State follows the group’s takeover of the ancient city of Palmyra.

The United States says fighting the militants will be a challenge, with claims that IS now controls half of the whole country of Syria. 

Maro Abou Zeid is a research analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center, who has been keeping a close eye of developments in the region. He joins me now from Beirut, in Lebanon. Thanks for your time tonight. 

This interview was originally broadcast by the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.