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Photo: Rami Al Sayed/AFP via Getty Images

As Syrian troops push into opposition-held towns and villages in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, roughly 600,000 civilians have evacuated their homes, fleeing to the Turkish border, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This latest emigration could quickly become one of the "worst humanitarian crisis" since the war started in 2011, the Post writes. Already, it is among the biggest single population dislocations throughout the nine-year war, a United Nations spokesperson told the Post.

The state of play: Eight international organizations have said this mass movement has cost more than 500,000 lives, and displaced more than 16 million people.

  • Upward of 200,000 people already fled from their homes last week, and another 300,000 people have been displaced since the Syrian government began its offensive in early December, per the Post.
  • Those fleeing are mainly women and children, the Post notes.
  • An estimated 280,000 additional people are at risk of being forced to evacuate, pushing more people into a pocket of land near the Turkish border.
  • Official Syrian troops are making their way to Idlib now, where another 900,000 live and could join the mass emigration if the soldiers attack, per the Post.

What to watch, per the Post: At a U.N. Security Council emergency session this week to discuss the crisis, the U.S. and its allies recommended an immediate cease-fire. But Western diplomats do not anticipate U.N. action is likely because Russia continues to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  • "The latest battles serve as a reminder that the Syrian war is far from over, even though its outcome is no longer in doubt," the Post writes.

Go deeper: Syria's Idlib offensive forces civilians to flee, pits Turkey against Russia

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.