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U.S. military vehicles drive on a road in the town of Tal Tamr on October 20, 2019, after pulling out of their base. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department distributed talking points to American embassies on Oct. 17 that included warnings that Turkey’s military offensive against Kurds in northern Syria is undermining counter-ISIS efforts and endangering innocent civilians, Vox's Alex Ward reports.

Why it matters: The talking points contradict President Trump's optimism about the Turkish incursion that followed his decision to remove troops from northern Syria. They indicate that members of his administration, especially career diplomats, are worried about the long-term consequences of the decision.

What they're saying: According to a copy of the talking points obtained by Vox, the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs wrote that "Turkey’s military offensive is severely undermining counter-ISIS efforts, endangering innocent civilians, and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region."

  • "Turkey does not appear to be mitigating the humanitarian impact of its invasion and occupation of some parts of northeast Syria," the cable adds. The U.S. has "called on Turkey to investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law, especially unlawful attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure."
  • The talking points also note that the department has withdrawn humanitarian and stabilization assistance advisers from northern Syria, which will make it difficult to implement the $50 million aid that the U.S. plans to distribute, per Vox.

Meanwhile, Trump has brushed off concerns that ISIS fighters could take advantage of the chaos and escape prisons and detention camps. On Oct. 9, Trump said ISIS fighters would defect to Europe if they escaped.

  • So far, at least 950 ISIS supporters have escaped camps for displaced people.
  • On Oct. 16, the president said that "the Kurds are much safer right now. But the Kurds know how to fight, and as I said, they're not angels. They're not angels. ... I wish them all a lot of luck."

Of note: The State Department released the talking points before Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and agreed to a temporary ceasefire that would force Kurdish forces to evacuate the area.

  • A State Department official told Vox the talking points have not been updated since the ceasefire.

Go deeper: Pentagon may struggle to contain ISIS in Syria

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.