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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

Anti-Trump lawmakers' private security expenses ballooned after Jan. 6 riot

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on April 14. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News.

Between the lines: Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

2 hours ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of the city's most prominent pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.