Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Appearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, four star U.S. Army General Joseph Votel said it would not be "too strong of a statement" to say Bashar al-Assad has "won" the Syrian civil war with the help of Russian and Iranian forces, reports Reuters.

Why it matters: Assad's government has slaughtered thousands of civilians in an attempt to keep his hold on power. He now has the upper hand on the battlefield. When asked if it was still an element of the U.S. mission to remove Assad from power, Votel said, "I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS.”

  • On Russia: Votel warned that Russia is playing the role of both "arsonist and firefighter" in the Middle East. "Moscow continues to advocate for alternate diplomatic initiatives to Western-led political negotiations in Syria and Afghan-led peace processes in Afghanistan, attempting to thwart the [United Nations'] role and limit the advance of American influence."
  • On Iran: The Iran nuclear deal "addresses one of the principal threats that we deal with from Iran, so if it goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program...Right now, I think it is in our interest” to stay in the agreement.
  • On Saudi Arabia and Yemen: Votel countered senators who want to end support for Saudi Arabia amid reports of civilian deaths in Yemen. He argued that by staying engaged, the U.S. can influence Riyadh toward limiting civilian casualties.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 31,245,797 — Total deaths: 963,693— Total recoveries: 21,394,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 6,856,884 — Total deaths: 199,865 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

Texas and Louisiana face fresh flood threat from Tropical Storm Beta

Tropical Storm Beta slowly approaching the Texas coast on Monday. Photo: National Weather Service/Twitter

Tropical Storm Beta crossed the Texas coast near the southern end of the Matagorda Peninsula late Monday, the National Hurricane Center said, bringing with it the risk of "life-threatening storm surge" and flooding to parts of Texas and Louisiana.

What's happening: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) made a disaster declaration and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency, as the states began feeling the impact of the slow-moving storm — which was causing coastal flooding along the bays near Houston and Galveston in Texas, and the Gulf of Mexico Monday, per the National Weather Service.

Louisville police declare state of emergency as Breonna Taylor decision looms

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Breonna Taylor during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Louisville police chief declared in a memo obtained by news outlets a "state of emergency" for the department on Monday to prepare for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's expected announcement on the Breonna Taylor case.

Of note: Louisville has witnessed more than 115 days of protests over the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, with calls for all the officers involved to be charged.

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