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Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an agreement on Tuesday to clear Kurdish YPG forces 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the Syrian-Turkish border in order to establish a "safe zone" where Syrian refugees can be resettled.

Why it matters: American influence on the future of Syria is evaporating in real time as U.S. troops withdraw from the country. It's now Turkey and Russia that are attempting to redefine the country's borders and determine the fate of America's Kurdish allies.

The big picture: Turkey launched a military offensive into northern Syria on Oct. 9 after President Trump withdrew U.S. troops from the area. Erdogan has long sought to establish a buffer zone on the Turkish border in order to eliminate the threat from the Syrian YPG, which allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS but is considered by Erdogan to be an extension of the PKK — a Turkish separatist organization.

  • As a result of the Turkish incursion, Kurdish forces turned to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, for protection.
  • Vice President Mike Pence struck a deal with Erdogan last week to pause Turkey's offensive in northern Syria for 120 hours (five days) so that Kurdish forces can withdraw from the area. That "ceasefire" expires on Tuesday at 3pm ET.
  • As part of the agreement between Putin and Erdogan, YPG forces will withdraw 30 kilometers into Syria within 150 hours.
  • After that, Turkey and Russia will jointly patrol the area, help facilitate the return of Syrian refugees, and "continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict," per the text of the agreement.

Go deeper ... Trump's Syria strategy: Get out, but "keep the oil"

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.