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Syrian Democratic Forces, via AP

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on his way to a NATO meeting in Belgium that the Pentagon's plan in the Syrian conflict is to eventually break up the territory along the Euphrates River into so-called "deconfliction" zones.

  • This shows Mattis is leaving the U.S. strategy open to letting the Assad regime and Iran control territory in the region.
  • Why it matters: This pits Mattis and the Pentagon against some officials in the White House, who are pushing for a fight against Iran for territory after ISIS is rooted out. The Pentagon is sticking to its statement that it doesn't want a fight with pro-regime forces, but the recent escalation of U.S. clashes with pro-regime forces in the region tell a different story.
  • Mattis might be hedging his bets on the strategy and said Tuesday "it's not like the fight's over when Raqqa's over."

Go deeper

Muslim families hope to reunite following Biden's travel ban repeal

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Muslim Americans across the U.S. are celebrating President Biden's day-1 reversal of former President Trump's travel ban that targeted several Muslim-majority countries.

The big picture: The repeal of what many critics called the "Muslim ban" renews hope for thousands of families separated by Trump's order.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.