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Smoke billowing over the village of Qmenas on March 1 following a Russian airstrike. Photo: Ibrahim Yasouf/AFP via Getty Images

Syrian state media said on Sunday that Turkish forces downed two of its warplanes over Idlib, after Syria destroyed a Turkish drone and announced it was closing its airspace over the northwest region, AP reports.

Why it matters: Tensions are continuing to escalate between NATO ally Turkey and the Syrian regime, which is backed by Russia and has been conducting a deadly offensive in the last rebel-held areas of Idlib.

  • The result thus far has been the darkest chapter of Syria’s brutal nine-year civil war, with a massive humanitarian crisis threatening to collide with a dangerous geopolitical showdown.

The big picture: With hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrian refugees fleeing toward the Turkish border, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Saturday he would open Turkey's border with Europe — claiming that his country cannot sustain more than the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it already hosts.

  • At least 13,000 refugees had amassed on Turkey's border with Greece on Sunday, according to the UN.
  • “Europe and others must take robust action to address this monumental challenge," a Turkish spokesman told AP. "We can’t be expected to do this on our own.”
  • Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted Sunday that the country will not accept asylum applications for one month, and that it will invoke a special provision in a key EU treaty to "ensure full European support."

Go deeper: Syria's darkest chapter

Editor's note: This story has been updated with news that Greece will turn away asylum seekers.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

5 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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