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Heading toward Greece, in Edirne, Turkey. Photo: Osman Orsal/Getty Images

There is war on Turkey’s border with Syria and chaos on its borders with Europe.

Driving the news: Turkey launched an offensive against Syrian government troops after at least 36 of its soldiers were killed in an airstrike last Thursday. It shot down two Syrian aircraft and claims to have killed hundreds of Syrian forces.

Simultaneously, Turkey announced that it was opening its borders to allow Syrian refugees to cross into Europe. Turkey hosts 3.7 million Syrians but — with up to a million people displaced by recent fighting in Idlib expected to attempt to cross into Turkey —says the situation is no longer sustainable.

On the scene: “Thousands of migrants have gathered near Greece's Kastanies border crossing, some getting there by taking free rides on buses organized by the Turkish government. Turkey’s state-owned Arabic-language broadcasting channel ... provided maps for migrants showing various routes to reach the border,” per Al-Monitor.

The EU insists its gates remain closed.

  • “We have to stand by Greece and fight together Erdogan’s blackmail,” said Guy Verhofstadt, a senior EU politician.
  • Turkish media released a disturbing video of members of the Greek coast guard apparently attempting to turn back or sink a boat filled with migrants.
  • A young Syrian boy died today when his boat capsized off of Lesbos.

In Syria, meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has focused his ire on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and not Syria’s ally, Vladimir Putin.

  • Erdoğan plans to meet with Putin on Thursday in Moscow to attempt to negotiate the endgame in Idlib.
  • Putin has aided Assad in retaking nearly all of Syria, but he has also been working for years to pull Turkey further from Washington’s orbit. He’ll have to weigh those competing priorities.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Idlib continues.

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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