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Turkish forces pose for a photo in Afrin after seizing control. Photo: OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images

Two months into an offensive in northwest Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey is in “total control” of the key city of Afrin, per the Washington Post. The State Department has issued a statement saying the U.S. is “deeply concerned” over reports from the city:

“It appears the majority of the population of the city, which is predominantly Kurdish, evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish backed opposition forces. This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs. We are also concerned over reports of looting inside the city of Afrin.”
— From the State Dept. Statement

The big picture:

  • In addition to a potential humanitarian crisis, this appears to be a major setback for Syrian Kurdish efforts to build greater autonomy, and eventually a Kurdish state.
  • It’s being proclaimed as a big victory by Turkey, which considers the Kurdish YPG militia, which controlled Afrin, a terrorist group.
  • It underlines the increasingly fraught relationship between Turkey and NATO allies like the U.S., for whom the Syrian Kurds have been a crucial ally against ISIS.

What's next: A Kurdish official told the Post the YPG withdrew “to begin a new stage of resistance.” She said: “Our military forces will continue to fight, but there are large numbers of civilians in need of urgent help.” Another official said the YPG would wage a guerrilla war.

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Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

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CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.