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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress Thursday that the United States is primarily in Syria to suffocate ISIS. "Our role in Syria is the defeat of ISIS. We are not going to engage in the civil war [between Bashar al-Assad's government and forces of opposition] itself," he said, but added that "at times you are going to see contrary impulses."

The backdrop: President Trump has been foreshadowing military strikes against Syria in response to a chemical attack in the city of Douma that was allegedly carried out by Assad's government. Mattis told lawmakers, "I believe there was a chemical attack, and we’re looking for the actual evidence."

Go deeper

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

2021 sees a record number of bills targeting trans youth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced over 60 bills targeting transgender children — a legislative boom since January that has beaten 2020's total number of anti-trans bills.

Why it matters: LGBTQ advocates say the unprecedented push was catalyzed by backlash to Biden's election and the Supreme Court ruling that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender.