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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

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.