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Tillerson speaks at Stanford. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tillerson said Wednesday at Stanford University that the U.S. must maintain a long-term military presence in Syria to counter ISIS, and expressed a hope of ousting Bashar al-Assad through a U.N. peace process that involves elections.

“The United States believes that free and transparent elections … will result in the permanent departure of Assad and his family from power. Assad’s regime is corrupt, and his methods of governance and economic development have increasingly excluded certain ethnic and religious groups. Such oppression cannot persist forever," he said, per Buzzfeed News.

His goals, per Patrick Wintour, the Guardian's diplomatic editor: 1. ISIS and AQ with both feet in grave. 2. 'A UN led political solution' to crisis including a post-Assad leadership, 3. Iranian reach 'diminished' 4. free return for refugees/IDPs. 5. No WMD.

The bottom line: Tillerson is setting out a case that the U.S. should be more involved in Syria, not less.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 deaths.
  3. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  4. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  5. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Michigan board certifies Biden's win

Poll workers count absentee ballots in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 4. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the state's election results on Monday, making President-elect Joe Biden's win there official and granting him the state's 16 electoral votes.

Why it matters: Republican Party leaders had unsuccessfully appealed to delay the official certification, amid the Trump campaign's failed legal challenges in key swing states.