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Mitch McConnell on Sept. 24, 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the U.S. withdrawal from Syria would set back years of fighting ISIS and other terrorists and allow Iran and Russia to expand their influence in the area, in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday.

Why it matters: McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the Senate, has sharpened his criticism for President Trump's actions in Syria one day after the U.S. reached a cease-fire agreement. That agreement did not prevent clashes from breaking out between Kurdish and Turkish forces on Friday and has not restrained other Trump allies from criticizing his decision to leave the region prior to Turkeys military operation.

"Even if the five-day cease-fire announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorists.
Unless halted, our retreat will invite the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to expand their influence. And we are ignoring Russia’s efforts to leverage its increasingly dominant position in Syria to amass power and influence throughout the Middle East and beyond."
... To keep pressure on Islamic State terrorists, deter Iranian aggression and buy our local partners more leverage to negotiate with Bashar al-Assad to end the underlying conflict, we should retain a limited military presence in Syria and maintain our presence in Iraq and elsewhere in the region."

The bottom line: McConnell said the U.S. withdrawal of troops and escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities are "creating a strategic nightmare for our country."

Go deeper: Fighting eases after flare between Turks and Kurds in Syria

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.