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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.

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.