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A man walks under a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a street inside the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus in 2015. Photo: Youssef Kawwashan/AFP/Getty Images

Trump declared "Mission Accomplished!" on Saturday and administration officials are trying to distance him from George W. Bush's embarrassing declaration about the Iraq War in 2003. Officials are saying Trump only meant that the narrow mission on Friday night — of destroying Syrian chemical weapons facilities — succeeded.

The bottom line: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad looks perfectly safe in his Russo-Iranian cocoon.

The backdrop: Two stories, published in the wake of Trump's bombing, cast harsh light on the big picture in Syria:

  • Wall Street Journal: "Syrian armed forces on Sunday unleashed airstrikes against rebels and shelled what rescue workers said were civilian homes, demonstrating President Bashar al-Assad’s undiminished ability to wage the civil war a day after a U.S.-led missile attack."
  • Washington Post: "U.S.-led strikes against Syrian chemical weapons facilities prompted defiant celebrations in Damascus on Saturday as it became clear that the limited attack posed no immediate threat to President Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power and would likely have no impact on the trajectory of the Syrian war."

What's next: On CBS' "Face the Nation" today, Nikki Haley told host Margaret Brennan that the Trump administration will be imposing additional sanctions against Russia.

  • "Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn't already and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use."

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.