Jun 28, 2018

Israeli Defense chief arrives in Washington for urgent talks on Syria

Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot in Israel. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli defense forces chief of staff, Major General Gadi Eizenkot, arrived in Washington today for an urgent meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, to discuss the situation in Syria and the efforts to push Iranian forces out of the country.

Why it matters: As the Syrian army, backed by Russian forces and pro-Iranian militias, is moving forward with its operation to take over rebel strongholds in southern Syria, Israel is also expanding its military and diplomatic efforts to remove Iranian forces from Syria. The Iranian presence in Syria, and the future settlement in the country, will be one of the main issues in the planned summit between President Trump and Russian President Putin in Helsinki on July 16th.

  • Israel is concerned that the Assad regime's takeover of Southern Syria will allow Iranian and Hezbollah forces to entrench themselves near the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. Israel is also concerned that the Syrian army operation will lead to a flood of refugees along its border.

What we're hearing: Israeli officials told me that Israel will not allow any Syrian refugees to enter its territory, but the country will give as much humanitarian aid as it can.

The backdrop: Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Israel has provided humanitarian aid and assistance to the Syrian civilian population along its border. Most of the people in those areas are affiliated with different rebel groups, which kept the border calm and prevented terror attacks against Israel.

What's next: It is still unclear if and how Israel is going to assist those groups when the Assad army attacks them. One of the options Israel is exploring is asking the Russians to use their regional forces to prevent the Assad army from retaliating against the civilian population.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 721,817 — Total deaths: 33,968 — Total recoveries: 151,204.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 142,328 — Total deaths: 2,489 — Total recoveries: 4,767.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

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There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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